Posted by Rojas @ 12:09 pm on February 23rd 2010

Gay-friendly Conservatism

When gay conservative groups established a bold presence at CPAC, and when they came under fire from the usual bigots, guess whose supporters rallied to their defense?

Like you didn’t already know.

The Paul-inspired groups were responsible for one of the pivotal moments of the three-day conference. On Friday, Students for Liberty president Alexander McCobin used his speech in the rapid-fire “Two-Minute Activist” line-up to “commend CPAC for inviting GOProud,” a gay Republican group. That got a rise out of Ryan Sobra, an anti-gay activist who followed McCobin and condemned the conference for inviting the group. When he was booed, Sobra confusingly attacked Jeff Frazee — the head of Young Americans for Liberty. But he was onto something — it was the presence of Paul fans, who had crowded into the room for his upcoming speech, that meant Sobra would get more boos than cheers.

“I was thanking my lucky stars that the Ron Paul fans were there,” said Jimmy LaSalva, the executive director of GOProud, in a Saturday interview with TWI. “The Campaign for Liberty deserves a lot of credit for setting that tone.”

The more I read about CPAC, the more I think that the straw poll was only the tip of the iceberg. The performance of the young Paulites was simply sensational at every level–and their insistance on full respect for gay attendees is particularly inspiring. This has been way too long in coming, and there is clearly still a lot of work to be done. But for the first time, there seems to be a meaningful insurgency within party ranks on the issue.

I have never been prouder to be part of this movement.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:27 am on February 4th 2010

The Republican Health Care proposal

It’s Paul Ryan’s, it’s before the House, and it doesn’t just bend the cost curve. According to the CBO, it eliminates the long term entitlement deficit entirely.

Haven’t plumbed the mechanics of it sufficiently to form a coherent opinion. But it’s damn sure worth a look.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:30 pm on December 16th 2009

The chief lesson of the health care meltdown

Conor Friedersdorf gets it:

The Senate is, to borrow a famous description, a saucer where legislation is cooled — that is its design. Thus it is extremely difficult to comprehensively reform anything. But that hardly means that problems cannot be addressed by chipping away at them a bit at a time. It merely means that they cannot be addressed in a way that is emotionally satisfying to wonks who aspire to write a white paper that comprehensively solves a problem, or presidents who want a legacy like FDR’s, or Congressional reps who want to pass landmark legislation with their names on it, or a political press that loves covering things that are “historic” or “the biggest in a generation.”

Indeed. There remains a very substantial constituency that wants some form of health care reform, because the existing system, taken as a whole, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet most polls show that a majority of Americans are satisfied with their own health care. So we are left with people who are 1. amenable to change in order to help those who are less satisfied, but 2. unwilling to rip the guts out of the existing system and risk losing that with which they themselves are satisfied.

This will come as no suprise to any ideological conservative. Social institutions–even imperfect ones–create a set of expectations that people adapt to, and live their lives under. The undermining of institutional arrangements is, therefore, painful in and of itself–and that pain expresses itself in unpredictable ways. This is the intrinsic peril of social engineering–and the larger the project, the greater the peril.

America is not impossible to govern. It is impossible to engineer. We need to recognize and respect the difference between the two. People can and will be influenced, but they will not be herded or remade. Neither will they easily tolerate having the rug pulled out from under them as regards the arrangements of their daily lives.

It is not necessary to disembowl the American health care system, or to pass gargantuan pseudo-comprehensible bills, in order to provide the uninsured with viable medical care. That is a goal worth pursuing. So let’s do so. But we need to beware of legislative hubris in the process. An effective doctor, first and foremost, does no harm.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:10 pm on November 6th 2008

New Conservative principle one: balance the budget first, THEN cut taxes

Many claims have been made about the repudiation of conservatism by the incumbent administration, and the actions which have to be taken to reclaim the mantle of the movement. I am going to argue here that the single greatest transgression of the Bush administration has been fiscal profligacy. In fact, I will go further: I would contend that the New Conservative movement is going to have to go further to the right on this issue than Reagan did. The central fiscal tenet of New Conservatism has to be balanced budgets, with taxes at best a secondary concern. In other words, while we will necessarily seek to cut spending first, a New Conservative should prefer the prospect of a tax hike to the prospect of an unbalanced budget, and should vote accordingly.
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Posted by Rojas @ 9:25 pm on November 6th 2008

Notes towards a New Conservatism

We have spent so much time over the last few days calling for a new dialogue about conservative principles that we have forgotten that we have a forum of our own to make it happen.

We have a pretty sizable gang of conservatives here, and a relatively ideologically diverse bunch as well, from hardcore libertarian types to Obamacons to pseudo-neocons. We all want change, and we all recognize that whatever principles are going to be regarded as “core” to the new movement, they’re going to have to be principles on which a variety of different kinds of conservatives can agree.

Our challenge, then, I think, is to draw some clear lines between those principles which are fundamental to the future direction of the movement, and which ones are ideological options.

For my part, it’s pretty clear to me that the ideas of judicial restraint and federalism, both near and dear to my heart, have to go on the scrap heap at this point. There’s no constituency to be built around them. Individual New Conservatives may be states’ rights advocates or strict constructionists if they please, but those cannot be key principles of the movement.

I’ll invite my co-bloggers to put up posts on issues they think should be (and more importantly CAN be) core to the new definition of American conservatism. I have one in mind, and will be throwing it out there within the next couple of days.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:34 pm on November 4th 2008

Paulites: Attack Now

The wreckage is still smouldering, and the Republican party awaits a new vision. There is a massive power vacuum that will be filled in fairly short order.

If we’ve learned anything at all about how to sell our message, now is the time to do it.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:47 pm on November 4th 2008

The upside

As of tonight, the Republican Party is once again opposed to the expansion of executive power, and to big government generally. :)

It’s going to be harder to make that case in light of the behavior of the dingbats who’ve been steering the ship to this point. But it still remains the correct case to make. Perhaps we will rediscover its true merits, and become recommitted to it out of principle rather than out of mere practicality.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:16 pm on November 4th 2008

Raise a glass

Set the politics aside for a minute.

I thought it possible that America might be willing to elect an African-American president within my lifetime. I did not know whether it would have the opportunity, or whether the right candidate would come along.

One can disagree with most every position the Barack Obama holds–and I do–and still recognize and celebrate the wonderful nature of what happened tonight.

Unbelievable but true: in America, anyone can be President. No barrier of poverty, race, or gender is insurmountable to an individual with sufficient talent and work ethic. Tonight, we celebrate both the broad-mindedness and honor of the American people, and the extraordinary drive and skill of the man who made it possible. And we invite the world to see us for who we truly are.

Congratulations, President-Elect Obama. You earned this, and so did we.

Posted by Jack @ 8:15 pm on October 27th 2008

In my mail today: Idiocy (or, a report from Florida)

Focused so heavily as I’ve been on The Race and to a lesser extent on the proposed Florida Amendments, including our own bigot amendment, I have been remiss in keeping up with the local House contests. Or rather, I have ignored them completely, and know nothing of the local candidates, save for having been subjected to a rather tiresome, predictable, and utterly uninspiring speech from one of the Diaz-Balart brothers at a military event some time ago. So 100% of my impression of the Florida District 18 candidates is based upon one flyer, received today, from the campaign of Annette Taddeo, challenging the Republican incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Taddeo’s flyer displays such campaign ineptitude, economic ignorance, and apparent contempt for the intelligence of the electorate, that I feel obligated to vote for her opponent.

Highlights from the document:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
It’s time for Independent Energy and independent Leadership in Congress Annette Taddeo will go to Washington to bring real results back to Florida

Ok bad start: Pandering, empty, predictable phrases, and focused on the energy independence myth. But I do expect that from politicians, and will ignore it as long as there is something more…

She summarizes all that is Ros-Lehtinen, “BIG OIL’S BEST FRIEND IN WASHINGTON” with three bullet points indicating that she has received $69K from big oil, and implying, though not stating our right, that she voted “wrong” on two bills: HR 1251 “Price Gouging at the pumps” and HR 3221 “Dependence on foreign oil”. If forced, based on just the titles, I would vote against these bills; they sound exactly like the sort of political pandering, feel good-do nothing legislation that might actually worsen the situation.

Taddeo then trumpets her comprehensive platform in three points, starting with… gas prices.

Protecting Floridians at the Pump
Annette will lower gas prices and end price gouging practices of Big Oil. It is absurd for oil companies to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer giveaways while hard working people in the Keys and Miami are paying more than $4 a gallon for gas

Disregard for the moment the lack of understanding she displays as to the fungible nature of oil and the rather standard profit margin present in the oil industry, ignore that no where has she proposed reducing or eliminating taxes on gas, wave away your rising objection that it is ludicrous to pin all this on the Big Oil boogeyman: It is the timing as a tactic that strikes me us ridiculous. Gas prices have been dropping for months, I routinely pass Miami stations at $2.79 or lower. Even at its peak, I can only recall one station that topped $4 for standard unleaded, and that one is in the highest rent district in Miami Beach. I’m sure there were others, but far from the majority. Given that gas has dropped so dramatically, and is now not nearly as much of an issue for Floridians, don’t you think that you might get flyers printed up with some other pandering nonsense? Maybe something on the voters minds right now? Maybe something about the financial crisis? Anything? But no, flyers that might have swayed the ignorant and uninformed three months ago are shot gunned out one week before the election while Taddeo is down at least 8 points in the polls. Good luck with that.

Point Two: Energy independence mythologizing:

Investing in Alternative Energy
Annette believes that America’s security depends on independence from foreign oil. Instead of relying on unstable countries for oil, it is time to invest in alternative energy and maximize the clean energy we produce here at home.

I can’t stand it. I can only wonder if she and all the other political animals that spout this nonsense really believes that we can legislate away our overwhelming dependence on foreign oil, or if they are aware of the impossibility, but happy to spew this populist rhetoric. I would love for us to have some alternative energy options, and as soon as they are competitive, they will blossom. That time has not yet come. Perhaps you can marginally accelerate it with tax payer funded R&D, but we all know that Annetter is not talking about just research here, we are talking about long term ethanol-style subsidies.

Getting the Economy Back on Track
By pushing for alternative energy sources, Annette’s plan will bring new high-[paying jobs to South Florida, help protect the environment, and improve our way of life in Florida.

In point one she condemned the taxpayer funded corporate welfare for Big Oil, but is now happy to provide a massive welfare program for Big ? So long as it brings “high-paying jobs to South Florida”? At least she hasn’t suggested that she opposes ear marks, that would be a bridge (to hypocrisy) too far.

Posted by Brad @ 7:12 pm on August 23rd 2008

No More Fort Hays Debate

Maybe I should wait for Rojas to post about it, but a followup to his post on the dueling debate coaches from Fort Hays and Pitt and their rather heated argument.

The President of the school held a press conference and announced that the Fort Hays coach has been fired, and their debate program suspended indefinitely.

The president continued: “Professor Shanahan’s conduct falls below the standard established to protect our university, its faculty, students and alumni. As a representative of FHSU, he had a duty of care that was seriously breached by his behavior.”

“If the coach of one of our athletic teams became angry and ‘mooned’ officials, student athletes and fans during a sports event, he or she would no longer be a coach at Fort Hays State University,” President Hammond said. “Standards for our debate program are certainly just as high.”

Heh. Boy, I sure knew me some debate coaches that fell well short of that bar.

Posted by Rojas @ 3:11 pm on July 21st 2008

Well, they did ask.

Guest hosting for Andrew Sullivan, Patrick Appel links to an amusing post at Wired/Threat Level. Apparently, the Republican Party decided to engage in a “historic” effort to solicit online suggestions for their party’s platform. You can probably guess at which part of the party base mobilized to answer that question…

When the Republican Party issued a clarion call last week for its grassroots supporters to submit ideas online to build the party’s platform, Republican National Committee officials probably weren’t expecting a concerted push for the dismantling of the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard.

But Ron Paul supporters have made themselves at home on the the GOP platform site, sounding many of the themes that turned the Texas congressman’s doomed run for the Republican presidential nod into an internet cause célèbre.

Here’s my question.

If there’s only one part of the party’s base that can even be bothered to respond to suggestions for policy ideas, doesn’t that rather suggest that maybe something ought to be done to bring those people into the fold?

Might the Republican party be able to find SOME use for hundreds of thousands of wildly enthusiastic individuals who are eager to donate their money and their time? Yes, yes, I know, you don’t want to necessarily make them the public face of the party. But is the McCain campaign really so swamped with diehards at the moment that they would seek to actively turn these people away?

Let’s say that tomorrow John McCain, while continuing to move gradually towards an endorsement of phased withdrawl from Iraq, also begins to make friendly noises about the gold standard. Does he, as a consequence of this action, gain, or lose, votes? Campaign donations? Campaign volunteers?

Posted by Rojas @ 7:26 pm on July 15th 2008

Kansas pride

A key question for legal scholars: should a person be registered as a sex offender if the four-year-old they’re caught molesting happens to be a dog?

Posted by Rojas @ 4:45 pm on July 15th 2008

Jokes we’re allowed to tell about Barack Obama

The Borowitz Report has the full list. All five of them. Free sample:

Barack Obama and a kangaroo pull up to a gas station. The gas station attendant takes one look at the kangaroo and says, “You know, we don’t get many kangaroos here.” Barack Obama replies, “At these prices, I’m not surprised. That’s why we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Posted by Rojas @ 7:50 pm on July 14th 2008

Strange Bedfellows

The Strange Bedfellows Coalition is an emerging advocacy group and PAC dedicated to holding members of the political class–and their clients– responsible for criminal behavior.

It’s an ideal cause for those–left and right alike–who believe that human liberty requires the rule of law. The first targets of the SBC will be the Democratic congresspersons who supported the new FISA law and who were most prominent in enabling the Bush administration to escape consequences for torture. Consider donating to their August 8 money bomb.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:40 pm on July 11th 2008

Phil Gramm is correct

As is my tradition here, I find myself compelled to defend the indefensible. In this case, Phil Gramm’s comments regarding America’s economic hardship.

Gramm–who himself holds a Doctorate in Economics–has managed to get himself and the entire McCain campaign in trouble with his spectacularly impolitic remarks regarding the American economy. Specifically:

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” Gramm told the Times. He noted that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. “We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet.”

I’ll begin by granting that this is not the sort of comment which is likely to help any politician electorally, and by recognizing that Barack Obama cleanly “won” the news cycle on the issue. But as ever, I find myself bothered by the nagging question: is the speaker actually incorrect?

In point of fact, he isn’t. At all.
(more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 6:21 pm on July 9th 2008

Qwest for heroes

It is worth noting, in the aftermath of todays events, that corporations too can be good citizens–when they have the courage to stand up to abuses of government power and adhere to the law.

Amidst the rather craven and spineless behavior of telecommunications companies, many of which went out of their way to accomodate the Bush administration’s illegal demands in the hope of procuring federal contracts, Qwest stands out as having stood up for its customers’ privacy.

Civil libertarians could do worse than to switch appropriate services–their cell phone provider, for instance–over to a company that respects their rights.

Posted by Rojas @ 6:35 pm on July 4th 2008

America the Beautiful

h/t: RSE

Posted by Rojas @ 6:10 pm on July 4th 2008

Obama’s FISA evolution

TPM charts the Obama campaign’s public statements. January 28…

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people — not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

…to July 3…

Well, the bill has changed. So, I don’t think the security threats have changed. I think the security threats are similar.
My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people.

Obama’s current stance is that the telecom immunity should be removed from the bill, but if it isn’t, he’ll vote to enact it into law.

Really, the Iraq walkback matters a whole lot less than this. The situation in Iraq has changed over the last six months. The nature of civil liberties hasn’t. And Obama’s explanation–that the new bill is better than the old–is entirely unpersuasive given that he has changed his public stance regarding whether the un-altered portions of the bill are deal-breakers.

I suspect that the last bit is what’s really making his supporters angry. Obama’s “explanation” of his change on this issue, delivered directly to those who have been working hardest on his behalf, really could not be more disingenuous.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:06 pm on June 30th 2008

The terrifying return of MitRom

Yes, he’s back. According to the extremely well-connected Mike Allen, Mitt Romney is now the front-runner for the Republican VP nomination, with Rob Portman and John Thune trailing.

It is very hard to imagine that McCain, given his personal distaste for Romney, would let him anywhere near the ticket unless he had a very specific strategy in mind. In this case, one would have to imagine that this is his route towards opting out of public financing of his campaign and using Romney’s money to achieve relative parity with Obama. This would make Romney the first VP candidate in history to be chosen for purely financial reasons.

Posted by Rojas @ 9:14 pm on June 20th 2008

Obama caves in

There is no point in sugar-coating it. By endorsing the utterly shameless “compromise” on FISA, Barack Obama has personally ratified the single greatest infringement of American civil liberties since the Patriot Act. And he has demonstrated, contrary to Brad’s assertion below, that there is a constituency for telecom immunity: Barack Obama.

Greg Sargent puts it best:

To be clear, I’m not even talking about whether opposing this would or wouldn’t have carried political peril. It really doesn’t matter. Because if there were ever anything that would have tested his operating premise throughout this campaign — that you can win arguments with Republicans about national security — it was this legislation. If ever there were anything that deserved to test this premise, it was this legislation.

And this time, he abandoned that premise.

For the voter primarily concerned with civil liberties, there can now be only one option: Bob Barr.

BONUS: Greenwald is in rare form this week. Here he reports on Obama’s personal intervention to protect a pro-telecom amnesty Democratic incumbent from an anti-amnesty primary challenger.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:22 pm on June 13th 2008

My Bob Barr dilemma

Bob Barr is my least favorite Libertarian Presidential candidate since Andre Marrou. Of the remaining contenders for the Presidency, he strikes me as being the third most intelligent and decent human being. He is a protectionist. While his views on gay marriage are evolving in a positive direction, he is the principal author of DOMA, and to be frank, he doesn’t seem to like gay people very much. He initially supported the Patriot Act. Were there a chance of my vote winning him the state of Kansas, I would not be casting it for him.

And yet, as Barack Obama and John McCain race pell-mell in the opposite direction of everything that made me respect them in the first place, I am starting to see the potential strategic utility of a Barr vote from a libertarian conservative perspective. My reasoning has to do with the message that my vote sends to the political parties–all three of them–regarding their future direction. (more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 6:08 pm on June 12th 2008

Worth Watching

John McCain will be hosting the first of his national town halls (Barack Obama declined to attend) in about one hour. The event will be broadcast on Fox News Channel.

One would imagine that he will be asked about today’s Supreme Court decision regarding habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay. He’d better be smart in his answer, because earlier today, Barack Obama got it exactly right:

Today’s Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values. The Court’s decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo – yet another failed policy supported by John McCain. This is an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus. Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy. We cannot afford to lose any more valuable time in the fight against terrorism to a dangerously flawed legal approach. I voted against the Military Commissions Act because its sloppiness would inevitably lead to the Court, once again, rejecting the Administration’s extreme legal position. The fact is, this Administration’s position is not tough on terrorism, and it undermines the very values that we are fighting to defend. Bringing these detainees to justice is too important for us to rely on a flawed system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9-11 attacks, and compromised our core values.

McCain has been wise enough to call for Guantanamo to be closed. Now let’s see if he’s wise enough to slam the door conclusively on this ugly bit of American history.

Posted by Rojas @ 6:42 pm on June 5th 2008

The false promise of soft power

There has been a lot of talk lately about the alleged “soft power” benefits of an Obama Presidency.

The arguments as to how an Obama election would re-brand the US on the global stage are essentially twofold. The first argument is that Obama’s open willingness to converse with both allies and enemies would be seen as a repudiation of Bush-style hegemonic weight-throwing. Brad frames the argument this way:

How different the possibility of Barack Obama. Barack Obama, along with say David Cameron (perhaps Sarkozy too, though more significant than both), could really function as the first 21st century politician in the Western World. I won’t belabor the point, lest anyone accuse me of Messianism, but the statement, both to ourselves and to the rest of the world, is there, and will exist long beyond any given marginal policy one way or the other.

The second argument is that Obama’s background is itself a powerful guarantor of American soft power. This is the “Wow, America elected a black guy!” school of thought expressed by, for instance, Andrew Sullivan:

The simple existence of Obama as a new president in a new century would in itself enhance America’s soft power immeasurably, just as a clear decision to leave Iraq would provide much greater leverage for diplomacy and military force in a whole variety of new ways. Obama would mean the rebranding of America, after a disastrous eight years. His international heritage, his racial journey, his middle name: these are assets for this country, not liabilities.

There is an extent to which I agree with these arguments, and I have even made them myself on occasion. I continue to believe them to be true…but only to an extent. My fear at this point is that many of us are beginning to dramatically overstate the amount and the extent of soft power that would be generated by an Obama win, and particularly that we are misdiagnosing the nature of that power in terms of its permanence and its applicability. (more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 1:14 pm on June 5th 2008

FDR lives

I find my nightmares changing as the campaign wears on.

My old anti-Obama vision was one in which he played the role of a 21st-century Jimmy Carter. The paralells were apparent; facing an incumbency that had grown corrupt and stale, Carter cultivated an impression of honor, ethics, and trustworthiness and rode it to the Presidency. Yet Carter, for all of his native intelligence, was undone by a lack of understanding of the Washington machine, and in the end the rising expectations that he’d engendered turned against him when he proved incapable of knowing which levers to pull to achieve the results he sought.

There is still, I suppose, some prospect of that scenario unfolding. But I’m now more worried about an alternative possibility. What if Obama isn’t Jimmy Carter, but Franklin Roosevelt? (more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 11:35 pm on June 4th 2008

McCain walks the wire

What, is he trying to lose my vote?

As first reported by Threat Level, Chuck Fish, a full-time lawyer for the McCain campaign, also said McCain wanted stricter rules on how the nation’s telecoms work with U.S. spy agencies, and expected those companies to apologize for any lawbreaking before winning amnesty.

But Monday, McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin, speaking for the campaign, disavowed those statements, and for the first time cast McCain’s views on warrantless wiretapping as identical to Bush’s.

Don’t do it, Mac. You already won the primary. Now is the time to stand up for the rule of law.

Posted by Rojas @ 9:30 pm on June 4th 2008

Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER bring your computer to Geek Squad for repairs.

This is the first time I’ve had access to the net in about two weeks; did I miss anything? Stories of political significance, or anything like that?

I’ll have more tomorrow when I have a new computer in my home. This warning, however, could not wait. Geek Squad is the Hillary Clinton of computer “repair”; they must be whipped, broken, and driven across the land.

Posted by Rojas @ 6:03 pm on May 22nd 2008

The Keystone Kongress in: Farm Bill Follies

Congress manages somehow to lose an entire section of the farm bill prior to sending it to the President for his veto. Hilarious hijinks ensue:

Action stalled Wednesday, however, after the discovery that Congress had omitted a 34-page section of the bill when lawmakers sent the massive measure to the White House.

That means Bush vetoed a different bill from the one Congress passed, raising questions that the eventual law would be unconstitutional.

In order to avoid those potential problems, House Democrats hoped to pass the entire bill, again, on Thursday under expedited rules usually reserved for unopposed legislation. The Senate would then do likewise. The correct version would then be sent to Bush under a new bill number for another expected veto.

“We are trying to understand the ramifications of this congressional farm bill foul-up. We haven’t found a precedent for a congressional blunder of this magnitude,” said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman. “It looks like it may be back to square one for them.”

It takes some doing to make this administration look competent by comparison.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:42 am on May 21st 2008

The Gitmo Train Wreck

The Bush Administration is specifically and directly responsible for the failure to try an apparent would-be 9/11 hijacker. There was preponderant evidence that would have enabled him to be tried, convicted, and punished; but it was just vital that we torture him for some reason, and so now we have compromised the entirety of the case against him. So a man who, to all appearances, was an active co-conspirator in the attack on the World Trade Center is going to be released outright.

On the heels of that outrage, we now get word from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that, gosh darnit, we want to close Guantanamo, really, we do, but we’re–using his phrase here–“stuck” with it. Here’s his rationale:

For one, Gates said, there are about 70 detainees ready for release whose home governments either will not accept them or may free them after they return.

Gates said there were also several detainees who cannot be freed but who are also ineligible for prosecution under the military courts set up by the Bush administration. Gates did not elaborate on why those detainees would not be charged.

“What do you do with that irreducible 70 or 80, or whatever the number is, who you cannot let loose but will not be charged and will not be sent home?” Gates asked.

Take a look at the statement above. Take a good, long look.

See, it might seem to some of you that one would have the option of, I dunno, actually trying these people in a NON-military court. Or, if insufficient evidence exists to support a prosecution, doing what we do with people against whom we have no evidence of criminal conduct: releasing them. But apparently, for the SecDef, that possibility is so unthinkable as to not be worth mentioning; not even for so long as it would take to formally dismiss it. So, logic dictates that the only alternative is for the administration to reverse policy and keep in operation the single greatest stain on America’s foreign credibility in the recent history of the republic.

I just don’t even know anymore what to say about these people. It is almost impossible for me to fathom how the response to the 9/11 attacks could have been more comprehensively bungled. If one had set out to deliberately design a strategy to make America an international pariah and to place Americans at greater risk of terrorist violence, one could scarcely have done better than this.

There is at any rate no way, no earthly way, that we let them off the hook for Gitmo based on this incredibly imbecilic argument. Every prisoner held there needs to be tried or released. Every. Single. One. No more excuses are acceptable. And the moment the last one of them is out the door on their way to a pre-trial detention center, the place needs to be leveled with naval artillery. No two bricks are to be left standing atop one another.

Only then can we go about the long, painful business of expunging this blot upon our history.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:45 pm on May 19th 2008

Containing the cost of Iraq

Even as a pretty vigilant advocate of governmental spending restraint, there are situations in which it can be taken too far:

A psychologist who helps lead the post-traumatic stress disorder program at a medical facility for veterans in Texas told staff members to refrain from diagnosing PTSD because so many veterans were seeking government disability payments for the condition.

“Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I’d like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out,” Norma Perez wrote in a March 20 e-mail to mental-health specialists and social workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center in Temple, Tex. Instead, she recommended that they “consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder.”

Posted by Rojas @ 11:22 pm on May 19th 2008

Vomit-inducing, and for all the right reasons.

Christopher Hitchens, who is opposed to pretty much everything, endorses John McCain’s fired-up idea for regular Congressional questioning of the President:

Harold Macmillan, who was perhaps the most outwardly urbane and unflappable of the whole postwar Tory generation, once confided that he often had to go and vomit with nerves before entering the crowded chamber of the House of Commons for prime minister’s questions. There’s no script. The handlers can’t come in there with you. There’s no warning of the real question, because the topic can easily be concealed inside an ostensible or pretext question. There’s no defense against a crisply worded follow-up. Nobody can become prime minister, or continue as prime minister, who cannot stand up to it.

Nor should we permit anyone to serve as President who can’t handle such a situation. No better candidate screener is imaginable. Can anyone imagine George W. Bush even daring to run for the office in a system which included such a mechanism?

C’mon, Senator Obama, pony up. Are you for it or against it? And if you’re against it, what are your reasons?

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