"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Inkstained Wretches

With his crabby "You goddamn kids stay off my lawn" tone that suggests he is probably wearing an onion on his belt (a yellow one, you can't get the white ones on account of the war) Grandpa Simpson Richard Cohen comes across as a bit of a knob in his diatribe against those crazy kids and their crazy tattoos, but after seeing this, I'm not so sure he isn't on to something.
JimDandy Goodness offers its own take along with some awesome ink

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

And speaking of "knowing what they know"...

A brief round-up of the dimmer side of the blogosphere, just 'cause I'm feeling testy today:

When cracker-assed cracker politicians blog.

Michael Savage: Hateful crackpot or just an ignorant dick?

Another reason Bill O'Reilly can just frickin' bite me.

And finally, if it's a day with a "Y" in it, there must be some Blogging Tory saying something stupid:

Shorter Strong Conservative: Shriek! The press are covering Obama's trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. No fair, they didn't cover John McCain's trips (like this, this, and even this).

McCain's been to Iraq eight times, you'd think by now he'd know where it is.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Logic, the Blogging Tories and Omar Khadr

(expanded and revised from yesterday's intitial draft)

A busy weekend this side of the pond and I was at a bit of a loss for material for a blog post --once again it is JimDandy to the rescue as David lights the fuse on the bomb of Teh Stoopid that is the Blogging Tories and their maximum supremo numero uno Stephen Taylor.

Taylor says:

As a conservative, I have for the most part found intellectual solace in logic on
issue tracks where my bleeding-heart friends usually hug the emotional left
rail. The broad-arching free markets help rise more people out of poverty than
knee-jerk social and emotional reaction to give hand-outs to sustain a
substandard of living is but one example where cold right-wing logic is a better
and more constructive end that short-sighted albeit well-meaning emotionalism. I
have always believed that right-wingers act upon what they know to be true,
whereas left-wingers act upon what they feel to be true.


The conservative movement?

Surely, you jest!

We are talking here about the same people whose shrieking hysteria about gay marriage is based on nothing any more well-considered than "My pastor said teh gays make baby Jebus cry," a deepseated prejudice that "homos are icky" and that if two lesbians want their relationship legally recognized by the state and a wedding at the Unitarian Church, it somehow means that their own marital bliss is endangered and that the Catholic Church will be forced to host gay weddings resembling drag queen festivals.

The same people who think that their religious tomfoolery belongs in biology classes.

The same people who think that just because a handful of cranks and crackpots publish some crap on a blog or self-publish a book denying global warming, their arguments are of equal weight to those made by the overwhelming majority of scientists in peer-reviewed journals.

Need I go on?

These paragons of logic are the same people who want to cut taxes while the country is involved in a costly war with no real end in sight and while the government still has a massive debt to pay off.

These are the guys who, in every election, tell a few gory anecdotes to scare the rubes and promise "to get tough on crime and fight the rising tide of lawlessness" despite the fact that the crime rate has gone down more or less continuously since the 1970s.

These sensible and reasonable people are the ones who seem to see Islamofascistcommie terrorists under the bed and are suspicious of anyone slightly brownish.

The same chuckleheaded Leave-It-to-Beaver wannabes that think because their next door neighbor eats curry or pad Thai instead of pot roast on Sunday, and the bank teller has an unfamiliar accent, that multiculturalism is ruining the country.

The conservatives in Canada, as in most countries are all about emotions: Fear of the new and foreign and grief for the old and familiar.

To parse Taylor's egregious overstatements more closely, let us look at this gem:

"The broad-arching free markets help rise more people out of poverty than knee-jerk social and emotional reaction to give hand-outs to sustain a substandard of living is but one example where cold right-wing logic is a better and more constructive end that short-sighted albeit well-meaning emotionalism. "

Yes, because as we all know providing people who have no food and no money with the means to stay alive is really just cruel. Those knee-jerk social and emotional reactionaries at Unicef and the World Food Program are just prolonging misery in the third world. Don't those starving kids know that big corporations have every right to own the DNA patterns of corn seed? Don't those people with AIDS in Africa know that drug companies need to make a bigger profit than last year and can't just sell drugs at slightly above cost to the needy? Better to let them starve, sicken and die and be done with it and let the magic hand of the market take care of things. You know, the same markets that kept coal miners on starvation wages until they died of black lung in North America before they were unionized and the evil well-meaning emotionalist do-gooders managed to get things like child-labor and workplace-safety laws passed.

Conservatives who seem to think the Adam Smith's Wealth of Nation is the first and last word on the beauty of laissez-faire capitalism would do well to remember that before he wrote it, Smith authored The Theory of Moral Sentiments. While Smith was a dour, persnickity Scots academic who prized independence, prudence and propriety, and by today's standards a bit of a prude, his theory of morals was based on sympathy and benevolence was ranked among the most valued virtues.


You keep using this word, Stephen. I don't think it means what you think it means.

Stephen's original post deals with how Omar Khadr, the notorious teenage threat to western civilization who has now spent a third of his life in Guantanamo Bay must not be allowed back into the country. About how the Prime Minister should not intervene and bring him back to Canada, because he faces very serious charges and we just don't repatriate Canadians who fall afoul of the law in foreign countries.

"But, let’s go to first principles. Omar Khadr doesn’t himself deserve to be released
from jihadi limbo at Gitmo and tried before an American court."

How about the first principle of "innocent until proven guilty" or the right to habeas corpus and a timely trial?

However, as individuals who are defending a society based upon key values such as due process, presumption of innocence, and the rule of law, we deserve it.

And so does young Mr. Khadr. We all deserve due procress - equality in the eyes of the law and all that, you know. Small problem though, Stephen, due process should have kicked in when he was captured as a child of 15 five years ago, but the United States government decided that the Geneva Convention was "quaint" and just didn't apply to them and that they could just make up the rules as they went along.

Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade in a firefight in Afghanistan that killed an American soldier. While it is all a bit murky whether he actually did so, I would expect anyone big enough to heft a grenade or a rifle could probably be reasonably expected to do so if the place they were staying, which is alleged to be an Al-Qaida base, was suddenly overrun by foreign troops. The American soldiers in question were, after all, shooting at Khadr. I think self-defense could certainly be argued as could his being a valid, if underage, prisoner of war. If killing enemy combatants on the battlefield is murder, he could be judge guilty of that, but I think calling it a war crime is stretching the definition a bit.

Khadr’s present threat does not manifest itself in his illiberal hatred of our culture,
it rests instead in the extent to which we are to make our own values malleable in order rationalize our understandable but illogical emotion

Good grief, I agree with Stephen Taylor -- somebody mark the day on the calendar. The blind squirrel has found a nut - those who give up liberty for security get and deserve neither. But then, as if to prove himself blind, he bring the whole thing back and dumps it in the lap of the "Eeeeevul Libruls"

There is inconsistency on the Liberal side too, of course. Khadr was captured,
interrogated and held under approval from the previous Liberal administrations.
For them to demand his return, shows intellectual dishonesty and absurd

Or it could show that new information has come to light regarding the fact that the boy was being tortured, that the previous governments had no reason to think he would be held indefinitely, or simply that they are willing to admit that they made a mistake and would like to see it corrected. But of course admitting mistakes is not something neocons are really able to do for some reason.

Khadr should not be returned to Canada, as we do not simply return Canadian citizens to Canada when they run afoul of the law in the United States. However, to
complete this logical loop, Khadr must face the law in an American court. With both US Presidential candidates calling for the closure of Guantanamo, Prime Minister Harper would be wise to call for Khadr to face American due process.

Yes, it would be wise for the Prime Minister to call for Khadr to face due process, if such a thing existed instead of the current kangaroo court system faced by Gitmo inmates. And we regularly bring Canadians imprisoned in foreign countries back to Canada.

Some background on the "due process" and this case can be found here. There is plenty to digest, but in terms of the system faced, this bit is enlightening:

The Supreme Court heard on March 28, 2006, a challenge to George W. Bush's power to create military commissions to put Guantanamo prisoners on trial for war crimes (cf. the profile of Salim Ahmed Hamdan in "related cases"). On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that the US President exceeded his authority in establishing the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. The Court also ruled that the commissions violated U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions.

A controversial new bill was passed by the US Senate and the House of
Representatives in late September 2006.

The Military Commissions Act, which is heavily criticised by human rights organisations- allows terror suspects to be tried by military tribunals rather
than civilian courts- gives defendants a legal right to see evidence and a (limited) right to counsel- forbids "serious" breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as torture, in the course of interrogation procedures- gives the president the authority to "interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions"- allows for hearsay evidence in trials of terror suspects.

Furthermore, the new legislation prohibits any person from invoking the Geneva Conventions or their protocols as a source of rights in any action in any US court.
The new bill entered into force following signature by the President in October 2006.

So given the cold, hard facts in the cases, namely that due process as it is understood by reasonable people anywhere in the western democracies will not be visited upon the unfortunate Mr.Khadr, and given that he says we all deserve due process etcetera, Stephen chooses to jump off the bridge of logic into the river of fear and concludes that we don't dare bring one our own citizens home to face due process, but that we should abandon them to a kangaroo court system in a country that has repudiated the rule of law and its own adherence to international treaties and acceptable conduct. A country that tortured Khadr while he was still a child and continues to hold hundreds without charge and dubious recourse to the courts. Interesting choice.


You keep using this word, Stephen. I don't think it means what you think it means.