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Steady as she goes, helmsman

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday February 21, 2009 11:33 AM

From Reuters:

U.S. sticks with Bush position on Bagram detainees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday told a federal judge it would not deviate from the Bush administration's position that detainees held at a U.S. air base in Afghanistan have no right to sue in U.S. courts.

...[T]he new administration faced a February 20 deadline to tell U.S. District Court Judge John Bates whether it would "refine" the Bush administration's position....

Barbara Olshansky, lead counsel for three of the four detainees and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, said she was deeply disappointed that the Obama administration had decided to "adhere to a position that has contributed to making our country a pariah around the world for its flagrant disregard of people's human rights."

She said she hoped that the Obama administration was merely signalling it was still working on its position....

Some things never change; presumably hope is one of them.

When these items come across the ticker, sometimes I like to check the response on Daily Kos -- see how the teeter-totter stands between recognition and rationalization. It's pretty evenly poised on this one. A Kosnik with the sobriquet "givenoquarter" reported the dismal news, and added:

The Muslim world will see this for what it is: hypocrisy. Fanatical Islamists like bin Laden will use this evidence that, despite all the rhetoric, Obama is just more of the same--another Christian Crusader trying to destroy Islam. And some who were on the fence will be convinced by this and join the jihadists.

Once again, the terrorists win. Somewhere in Pakistan, bin Laden is laughing.

I love the way these folks have to "frame" -- as they would say -- even their humane and human impulses in the unquestioned context of the War On Terror(tm).

Comment on this post ran, as far as I could tell, about half and half pro-con. The first comment laid out the defense case:

My sense is that in court proceedings (2+ / 0-)
any incoming administration's default position is going to be to back their predecessors' line. That will be their position unless and until they've been able to look into the matter sufficiently to develop their own position.

by brainwave on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 09:17:33 PM PST

"Brainwave" subsequently elaborated:
In reality, though, chances are that Obama hasn't (2+ / 0-)
even appointed the person who will be in charge to hammering out the Obama administration's policy on this matter.

Comments (12)


Michael -- you have a truly Swiftian sense of the fawning, self-serving motives of political speech.


Seneca -- Many thanks for the kind words. But "Swiftian" is awfully high praise -- dangerously high -- and so to avert the evil eye, everybody go and re-read the Modest Proposal. Now that is the real thing.


Yes, that was high praise. The MP is a work of genius. What if I just put you in the Kinsgley Amis tradition of amused awareness of sloppy language?


Kingsley is pretty good too -- anybody read Lucky Jim recently? But the problem with Obie's excuse-makers is not that language has gone wonky on them.

Some are gifted with words and others are not. But the problem with all of them is that they're depraved.

The team-spirit mentality has gnawed away like woodworm at the fiber of their souls, and they no longer care what's true or false, right or wrong, as long as their guy comes out on top.

Peter Ward:

Part of the problem is that these atrocities are too academic--too much of an abstraction--in the minds of most liberal souls. It's easy to be a fencestraddler when kidnapping imprisonment and torture carried out by the US imperial machine have as much immediacy as the Spartan siege of Athens. Part of our strategy should be to make US-inflicted human suffering as concrete as possible, generating the necessary imaginative empathy, in the minds of our potential allies. Unfortunately, for many there's little imagination to take advantage (a consequence of education, I suspect) therefore until one is actually planted in Afghanistan, fingered by a greedy neighbor, taken captive and subject to mild abuse, one will not adopt the appropriate empathy.


american npr liberals much prefer the escapism
of khmer rouge trials

very concrete stuff
the cambo jacobin nitemare
and only indirectly
uncle's handy work
and thusly
every so non guilt provoking

the past after all
can't be changed
not even by liberal goo goos



easier to generate antipathy to uncle
straight off
then empathy for his victims

who are u trying to move and where?

revulsion never stayed the hand of a sociopath
only a slug in the brain
or at least
the high possibility of same


"hammering out the Obama administration's policy on this matter"

nice turn of phrase
there especially the choice of the metaphor

at least as i take it
that's an allusion to
the hammer of scotland etc etc


To sum up: we have Republicans and Democrats; Swift would call them "Big Endians" and "Little Endians" (depending on which end of the poached egg you like to crack open); Gore Vidal calls it "one political party with two wings."

Michael originally brought these words down from the mountain top how many years ago?

Al Schumann:

Seneca, call me a wretched nitpicker, but I must insist that there's still one slight difference. A dime's worth, if you will. The Democratic Party's supporters now advocate greater evilism.

"NPR liberals" is exactly it. Along with their depravity, these types are sponges for the pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-thoughtful terminology, tone, and worldview of that unlistenable assault on the public mind. I spose it figgers, since they spent their formative years meritocratically cramming for the SATs, to get into the places where technocracy gets passed down. Poor kids are defenseless.


I love this site -- there's always someone who picks up my fumble and carries it across the goal line.

Thanks, MD, and Al. . .

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