Sunday, November 22, 2009

Glenn Greenwald brings the Cranky.

First Amendment Militia shirt

Glenn Greenwald is suffering the effects of a very severe moral wedgie. Like many, and I include myself, he suffers from deep, impotent outrage toward the moral failure of the Obama Administration; it's abandonment of it's clear, legal duty to prosecute war crimes committed under the aegis of the Bushistas.

He waxes sarcastic and wroth, no doubt in part due to the fact that he is being studiously ignored by those who have the manifest duty to act.

"Criminals"?  "Prosecutions"?  "Obliged to open a case"?  "Violations of human rights"?  Just because they maintained a few secret prisons in violation of domestic and international law?  What kind of crazy, purist, Far Leftist utopians are running that place?  They need a heavy dose of pragmatism so they can understand all the reasons why so-called "crimes" like this can be overlooked -- just blissfully forgotten like a bad dream.  Even worse, with intemperate and shrill language of the type they're throwing around, it's seems clear that the Lithuanian press is sorely in need of some David Broders, Fred Hiatts, and David Ignatiuses to explain to them that subjecting law-breaking political officials to "investigations" and "prosecutions" is quite disruptive and unpleasant when those crimes involve matters other than consensual sex between adults.
Even more alarming, this "rule of law" and "human rights" fetish seems to be spreading: "In neighboring Poland, prosecutors in the capital of Warsaw have opened a criminal probe into reports that the CIA operated a prison for al-Qaeda suspects near a former military air base."  Last month, an Italian court convicted 22 CIA agents of the so-called "crime" of kidnapping someone off their street and sending him to Egypt to be tortured.  And the British High Court this week released its written Opinion -- over the objections of British and American officials -- ordering the release of details of Binyam Mohamed's torture at the hands of U.S. agents.

Thankfully, the U.S. remains a bastion of pragmatic sanity in this rising sea of accountability extremism.

Glenn, here's the thing. Things are worse than you suspect. You see, Lithuania is not acting idealistically, or in accordance with law through some triumph of principle over pragmatism. The rule of law is the most stunningly pragmatic concept ever developed by mankind. It precludes all sorts of problems. It's civilization's way of saying "RTFM" to the offensively and dangerously stupid. Those who will not read and abide by the manual are invited to explore the diversions provided by The Impartial Bug-Zapper of the Law.

The rule of law is preferable to the law of man because it insulates leaders from the need to make impossible political calculations between right action and personal survival. But certain sorts of men (it's almost always men) much prefer to be in personal charge and to be able to act with impunity.

People like George Bush, Don Rumsfeld and espectially Dark Lord Cheney are exemplars of this sort of man. They are sociopaths and worse, entirely indifferent to the consequences others suffer for their ambitions. And when they are permitted to flourish, they corrupt everything they touch, to the point that even the most honest and pure will be required to use corrupt and incompetent men to serve at his will.

Now Obama comes from Chicago. He may be a good man, but I doubt that "pure" or "idealistic" are words we should apply to him.

But he has a severe problem. If he prosecutes the Bushistas - as international law and Constitution alike agree is is his duty, to kick the matters raised into a Court in order to determine the outcome as matters of fact and law - there is a significant possibility that he will be faced with some sort of military/institutional revolt.

That is to say, Glenn - you are justly outraged. So am I. But since I wish to live in a society in which the Rule of Law has not been suborned, I returned to Canada. As a dual citizen, I had the right to choose - and strongly felt a substantial duty to make such a choice.

If you wish to live in such a society as a natural-born citizen, realize that it currently does not exist and has NOT existed for a substantial period of time. Not in MY lifetime, Sir.  Consider that advancements in civil rights during the last fifty years  have often come at the cost of cracked skulls inflicted by the supposed agents of the theoretical rule of law. Law that only protects some, in accordance to their utility to the State, is not law at all.

Glenn, here's the thing. It's a very depressing insight, but as near as I can tell, you can either choose to move to a country where the rule of law exists, or you can choose to fight for it's re-imposition upon at least some of territories of the former United States.  

I observe the current situation is increasingly intolerable, both for large numbers of US citizens and the world in general. Either the US behaves as befits a member of the community of civilized nations, or it will be chastised in increasingly firm and embarrassing ways until it reforms itself or collapses under the weight of it's cognitive dissonances.

President Obama may well be cast in the role of overseeing the dissolution of the United States as we have known it. But whether he is to be seen in hindsight as the caretaker of the process of dissolution in as peaceful a way as possible - the Gorbechev role - or as the exemplar of a renewed vision and a newly vital nation is still largely up to him and, of course, the strings he can haul upon and the people he can call on. People... well, people such as YOU, Glen. Do not ask what your country can do for you, Glenn. What the fuck are you gonna do for your country?

For myself, I could not continue to live within the boundaries of a nation that would not apply it's own laws to itself, one that will abandon it's fundamental principles when slightly startled. And in fact, is all  9/11 was, on the scale of events that happen within the US every single year. I came to the conclusion that the US didn't lose it's brains that day - it simply and collectively dropped the pretense of being a civilized nation of laws even unto itself.

So Al-Queda won without need to even try firing one more shot. After all, what need? Your own C-Street Taliban was more than happy to continue the fight on their behalf, seeking every single social outcome BinLadin would.

But Glenn, you are starting to become shrill - and it's a sure sign that you risk your health continuing in this vein. Granted, the path that those in power OUGHT to follow, under the terms of concience and law, is clear.

It's equally clear that there are those in power that will oppose that to the last ditch. That will commit acts of violence to prevent it happening. That will sabotage it in every way possible. And yet, you think law will prevail? 

Someone has to enforce the law. That implies the willingness to step up and do it. If those charged with that task refuse, they must not merely be nobly and peacefully protested. They must be replaced by those who will - and they must be made to understand that it is not a negotiable choice. By peaceful means, by political pressure, by force of public outrage if possible - but the continuing abuses of power must end and those who have abused it held to account, that this is not a matter of political will or calculation.

Unless it becomes quite clear that the danger to the administration from the left is just as grave as the danger from the right, and by "danger" I mean a very literal potential danger, there will be no progress. It's not about Left and right, it is about Lawful and Unlawful, a choice between the Rule of Law and the rule of unworthy, corrupt, unaccountable sociopaths. Such people will not simply admit defeat. The only "dirty bomb plot" EVER proven to be greatly advanced past the wishful thinking stage was by a Nazi-identified Maine Millionaire.

And it was apparently aimed at the Obama Inaguaral.

It's not cynical to say that might makes right - for no right has ever been established in the face of superior might. So progressives should start thinking as to whether their convictions carry with them the courage to fight, at need. For that need may well come, and weak Reids will not serve you well.

Look at the numbers. Given courage and determination, Glenn - which side has more Divisions? Assembled into serried and courageous ranks, with rotund tummies sucked in, by the numbers sir, by the logistics, sir, by the accounts of who has the ports, the people and the expertise, who wins, if they have the will?

Obama still seems to think this is a question that has a political resolution - but he is opposed by those who will not abide by the results of an honest political process - should it actually occur despite their best efforts.

Therefore, the left (and by "Left", I mean "not batshit crazy") needs to comprehend that this is not a debate.  It is a choice between competing powers and competing visions - and one side is stupid, crazy, dangerous, and a lot smaller. They are quite aware that if they are to gain power over you, it must be through confusion and terror, by threats and by the use of examples of extreme violence.

That is to say, Dick Cheney and his ilk, these people are terrorists, traitors and worse. They must be dealt with as such. Indeed, they will leave you no choice but to deal with them, now, tomorrow, next year. And that is not at all a matter of debate. The only question is, will they prevail over you before being dealt with by the rest of the world?  

Debates occur between peers. Persons deserving of equal respect. People of sound moral and mental character. People willing to admit fact, reason and a decent consideration of the feelings and ambitions of all parties in the public square. This is not the case, nor has it been the case for at least a decade. Nor has the situation been particularly changed by an apparent change in power. Power, sir, must be used and used well in order to have meaning.

Take compromise off the table. One does not compromise with those who's most fundamental belief is that you deserve death, or worse.

Stop pretending that they don't really mean that, or that they have a higher nature to appeal to. Their choice is as stark as that they would impose. They may submit to a reconstituted, civilized national culture, and live, or they may choose to dash themselves against the reality they reject. The process may be unpleasant - exactly how unpleasant depends in part on how long those who know what must happen resist an unpleasant chore. But the outcome is not even slightly in doubt.

The rest of the world would be perfectly happy to see the United States disintigrate into a collection of smaller, competing states. It would simplify matters enormously, since the US is certainly no longer seen as a stablizing power, much less a force for good or even an economic engine. Nobody is interested particularly in helping the US save face - and certainly not at the expense of their vital trade relations or their own ideals.

Glenn, what are you going to do about it? I think we both know how much reasonable speech has achieved. It's now time to apply pressure. Start thinking of yourself as the leader of a First Amendment Militia - for if the first is not applied hard, true and well, the exercise of the Second may well be required.

First Amendment Militia by webcarve
Canada Above the Fray Rondel by EhCanada


funeralpudding said...

The author should know Greenwald lives in Brazil. It is also because of supression of rights here in the US, but not the reason you may be thinking of - he's gay and Brazil gives him his partner's rights.

Bob King said...

The author HAD known, but had forgotten. This serves to remind the author to leave at least one glaring factual error or fallacious assumption... just to see if anyone is paying attention. :P


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