Thursday, November 19, 2009

What needs to be said

You may have seen House Republicans braying that the recent report suggesting that women don't need regular mammograms before age 50 is the beginning of health-care rationing.

It's the old Republican dodge: never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

What the Democrats need is someone--it would be nice if it were President Obama, but he can't the the only spokesman for truth, justice and liberty--to sand up and say, "You talk about rationing? I'll show you rationing. Herb Green died a lingering, painful death because his insurance company delayed covering his bladder cancer. Joe and Mollie White's daughter, Susie, died at age 2, because they couldn't afford medical insurance. Rationing? We already have rationing. It's carried out by health insurance companies."

Why don't we hear things like that?

Waarrms the cockles of me heart

Never thought I'd live to see this: The Ku Klux Klan is going to picket the Ole Miss/LSU football game this Saturday.

It's not the 1960's any more. Turns out--we weren't watching--that the university has had several black student-body presidents.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The true nature of the man

CBS' Sunday Morning featured a commentary by James Gordon Meek, of the NY Daily News. He happened to be at Arlington National Ceremony on Veterans' Day, when President Obama visited the graves of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meek's observations and experience give us a good picture of the man who occupies the Oval Office. It's well worth reading.

Terror Trials in the US

A great friend of TONE, The LighthouseKeeper, asked my opinion of the decision to try the leading terror suspects at Guantanamo in federal court in New York City. What follows is a slightly edited version of my response:

Seems to me that if I were a potential juror I'd offer the view that were I the judge, I'd probably dismiss the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the guy who was waterboarded 183 times) for prosecutorial (i.e., government) misconduct. But as a juror I think I'd be able to judge guilt or innocence. One of the problems the defense will have is that the guy freely admitted, indeed apparently boasted or his role in 9/11. That's 2800 killings.

I do have some question about whether these guys should be tried as criminals. I don't do criminal law, but it seems to me that we don't have a good dividing line between war and crime. The British did not execute American rebels, and in those few instances on the frontier when rebels (and their families) were massacred, we consider that behavior criminal. The North did not execute Confederate rebels, apart from spies and the like. We did not--as least as a matter of government policy--execute Aguinaldo's rebels or the Moros in the Phillipines. Or captured Indians. So, when does an act of war deserve to be treated as such and not as crime? I think there ought to be a principled dividing line, and I don't know that there is.

I have no doubt that the people to be tried believe that they are in a political/religious/military (put those in whatever order you choose) struggled against us. How should we repond?

Being against capital punishment, I would have a hard time bringing in a death sentence. On the other hand, as I told a federal judge who was at a conference I attended recently, these are the kind of cases that might cause me to question my premises.

As for trying these people in the civilian system, I'm all for it. Again, it's not clear to me--although it may be in the law--where the dividing line between civil and military courts lies, but I lean toward the civilian. Especially for an act like 9/11 that was perpetrated in the US, not in a zone of military operations or occupation. I think expressions of fear about terrorist attacks on the US as a result are overdrawn and not worthy of us. We're in a fight that we didn't choose; would that all fights were those we don't choose. But we cannot cower.