Don't you know that you can count me out

The tea party and the loudest, most strident voices of anti-abortion politics love to flirt with the idea of armed revolution. This is, for the most part, just adolescent foolishness -- a kind of fantasy play-acting that can be summed up in a single word: Wolveriiiiiines! By pretending to believe that America is on the verge of collapse into a totalitarian tyranny, they can pretend to themselves that they are the vanguard of a courageous resistance. The Red Dawn fantasy isn't all that … [Read more...]

Sez who?

"Nature and Nature's God" was Thomas Jefferson's lovely phrase for the basis of the rights we asserted in the Declaration of Independence. That was his shorthand answer to the question "Sez who?" He didn't have time in that document for a treatise on the basis, source or origin of human rights. His point wasn't to make the case that such rights existed, or to explain why they did or where they came from. His main concern, rather, was the meaning and the … [Read more...]

August 9

It is not permissible to deliberately target non-combatants with a weapon of mass destruction. To do so is always, in all times and places, wrong and monstrous and forbidden.That's not my rule. It existed for centuries before I was born and it will remain true long after I die. It has, over the centuries, been violated by nearly everyone who has had the power to do so, but none of those who violated it ever succeeded in refuting it. None of them ever made a convincing case that the rule … [Read more...]

Cleaning the lake

Here is the passage I was looking for the other day when I instead stumbled onto that bit about cheese sandwiches. This is from Philip Gourevitch's award-winning history and meditation, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. The desertion of Rwanda by the UN force was Hutu Power's greatest diplomatic victory to date, and it can be credited almost single-handedly to the United States. With the memory of the Somalia debacle still very fresh, the White House had … [Read more...]

Not a “terror suspect”

Michael Melia of the Associated Press reports today that: A U.S. military tribunal convening Monday at Guantanamo will hear challenges from attorneys for a Canadian terror suspect accused of killing an American soldier when he was 15 -- an age they say should disqualify him from trial. Lawyers for Toronto-born Omar Khadr, who is now 21, argue in a motion on the hearings' agenda that the judge would be the first in Western history to preside over a trial for war crimes allegedly committed by a … [Read more...]

Deliberate ambiguity

"You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. ... You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall." The above is from the famous speech by Jack Nicholson's character in Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men. Nicholson's Col. Jessep was a "tough" guy in the sense of "tough" conveyed by the current euphemism for torture: "tough interrogation … [Read more...]


"They say this is a different kind of war," Tony Lagouranis says. "Different rules for terrorists. Total crap." Lagouranis was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq until he was honorably discharged due to "adjustment disorder." That seems to be a military psychologist's euphemism for still having his conscience and humanity mostly intact. I've written before about the toll our nation's embrace of torture takes on the men and women ordered to … [Read more...]

The Firing Squad for God

Pat Robertson is nuts. But then you probably already knew that. Robertson surpassed even his own goofy standard this week when he called for the assassination of Venezeula's president, Hugo Chavez. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over … [Read more...]