A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Meanwhile, Back in 1984

Now that we have had our little celebration for Democracy and Freedom abroad, I'd like to bring up something I found back home, courtesy of Andrew Cohen at CBSNEWS.com. He quotes from a recent "military tribunal" of one Mustafa Ait Idr at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay. I normally don't like to block quote so heavily, but you need to get the full flavor:

The presiding tribunal officer accuses Idr of associating "with a known Al Qaeda operative." The detainee says, reasonably enough: "Give me his name." The tribunal president says: "I do not know." Idr understandably asks: "How can I respond to this?" The tribunal president asks: "Did you know of anybody that was a member of al Qaeda?" Idr says: "No, no ..."

"This is something the interrogators told me a long while ago," Idr complains during his so-called trial. "I asked the interrogators to tell me who this person was. Then I could tell you if I might have known this person, but not if this person is a terrorist. Maybe I knew this person as a friend. Maybe it was a person that worked with me. Maybe it was a person that was on my team. But I do not know if this person is Bosnian, Indian or whatever. If you tell me the name, then I can respond and defend myself against this accusation."

The tribunal president then responds, presumably with a straight face: "We are asking you the question and we need you to respond to what is on the unclassified summary."

The officer then tells Idr that he "was arrested because of his alleged involvement in a plan to attack the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, to which Idr replies: "The only thing I can tell you is I did not plan or even think of (attacking the Embassy). Did you find any explosives with me? Any weapons? Did you find me in front of the embassy? Did you find me in contact with the Americans? Did I threaten anyone? I am prepared now to tell you, if you have anything or any evidence, even if it just very little, that proves I went to the embassy and looked (at) the embassy, then I am ready to be punished."

There is no difference, absolutely none, between this and the show trials for which the Soviet Union was so famous. And Camp X-Ray is an American Gulag.

Cultivation of Democracy and Freedom begins at home.

I also found the following on CBSNEWS.com, from an article by Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard:

The media tolerate or even encourage Democratic rage. But the White House can't afford to. Senate Democrats have enough votes to block major Bush initiatives like Social Security reform and to reject Bush appointees, including Supreme Court nominees....Stronger countermeasures will be needed, including an unequivocal White House response to obstructionism, curbs on filibusters, and a clear delineation of what's permissible and what's out of bounds in dissent on Iraq.
Can it be put any plainer? Mr. Barnes would clearly put someone like me, or Barbara Boxer, in that Gulag, if he could get away with it. And any of my consevative fellow citizens, including Mr. Barnes, had better not have the copper bottomed arrogance to try to tell ME what is permissable or out of bounds in dissent on ANYTHING unless they have the force behind them to take me to Guantanamo.


I was so steamed over Mr. Barnes' article that I wrote a note in reply to The Weekly Standard. Joe Claus was a bad boy over it, I'm afraid. On the Standard's web site the article listed Mr. Barnes as "speaking for the editors". I suggested that he and the editors store their opinions about what was "permissable" in "a dark, warm, safe place." This was rather intemperate of me, and I really didn't expect a reply to such venting, but I got one! The exchange is reprinted below and it has at least restored my good temper.

Sorry, but your overheated note didn't persuade me. If I -- or any other American -- believes that someone's speech is jeopardizing the nation's security or its representatives overseas, I'm going to say so. I'm going to say that's out of bounds. Speech extends to me, not just to some crackpot who's sounding off. The crackpot is free to keep yapping, but not with my approval.



Well, really it was not intended persuade you. It was a mere fustian display of my crackpot sensibilities in relief of my feelings. Speak freely all you need. Your standards of "jeopardy" are a little exaggerated (I myself would confine such things to betraying valuable secrets, or, say, to the outing of undercover intelligence employees, such as Valerie Plame) but I see no particular reason to keep you from the protections of the First Amendment because of it. The notion that 13 Democratic Senators can jeopardise anything merely by vocally opposing Condoleesa Rice is the height of blinkered folly, but we are as free to be foolish as to be wise.



His courteous and gentlemanly reply to this didn't add anything new to the discussion, so I omit it, but I want to acknowledge it, and to apologise in print for writing so roughly in my initial response.


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