Some thoughts on Bush’s speech

I forgot that Bush was having a speech last night, but Kim kindly let me know at 9pm that the president was on in case I wanted to watch it.  I declined after a little thought.  Here is a case where I felt like I should be watching as just an ordinary American as here was our president, speaking in a presumably non-partisan way on the 5th anniversary of a national tragedy.  But I just could not bring myself to do it.  As mentioned in yesterday's post, Bush has so cravenly and consistently used 9/11 as a partisan cudgel that I just cannot listen to him speak on the issue anymore.  Being a dutiful citizen and political scientist, though, I did read excerpts from the speech, a few of which I feel the need to comment upon:

“Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq,” Bush said last night in a
prime-time address from the Oval Office, “the worst mistake would be to
think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They
will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America
depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.”

I am so tired of Bush ascribing arguments to his opponents that nobody in the real world actually believes.  Raise your hand if you think the terrorists will leave us alone if we get out of Iraq.  Exactly.  It is ludicrous and offensive for Bush to suggest that this is the position who oppose the war in Iraq.  But this is one of  Bush's favorite rhetorical devices, to make up idiotic statements and suggest that they are the beliefs of his political opposition.  It is equally asinine to suggest that somehow the terrorists will stop wanting to hurt America if somehow we pull a rabbit out of a hat and are successful in Iraq (which looks ever more unlikely). 

“The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.”

Oh, really?  I'd sure like to see some evidence of that.  And, yes, I know Saddam was a bad guy.

“And we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.”

Very true.  But no individual has done more to create strife and acrimony where there should be unity than President Bush.  Bush's idea of us putting our differences aside is for Democrats to roll over onto their proverbial belly and do his bidding, not actual compromise. 

“Yet, on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly
American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion and responding with
extraordinary acts of courage.”

Not fair to single out Bush on this one, as all politicians do this, but to somehow suggest that rising to the occasion with extraordinary courage is “something distinctly American” is absurd on its face and offensive to everybody else in the world.  There are certainly some things that are distinctly American, but I do not think we have a monopoly on courage in the face of challenges. 

I presumably could go on ad infinitum with comments on this speech, but I think I'll try and get a little Political Science done today.

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A Modern-day Malleus Maleficarum

I'm a little late in posting on this issue, but better late than never.  When it comes to the proposed military tribunals for the terrorists transferred from the CIA's secret prisons, military lawyers strongly oppose the president's plan.  As with the torture at Guantanamo and Abu Graib, many upright figures in the military are having bad and morally questionable policy pushed upon them from the civilian leadership (i.e,. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld).  Here's what the military lawyers think of Bush's plan:

“I can't imagine any military judge believing that an accused has had a
full and fair hearing if all the government's evidence that was
introduced was classified and the accused was not able to see any of
it,” the Navy's judge advocate general, Rear Adm. Bruce E. MacDonald,
told the House Armed Services Committee.

Brig. Gen. James C.
Walker, U.S. Marine Corps staff judge advocate, added: “I'm not aware
of any situation in the world where there is a system of jurisprudence
that is recognized by civilized people, where an individual can be
tried and convicted without seeing the evidence against him. And I
don't think that the United States needs to become the first in that
scenario.”

This idea of trying people offends those with any sense of justice whatsoever.  Sure, most of these guys probably are really bad terrorists, but with evidence based on torture and the inability of defendants to see the evidence against them, we cannot really know, can we. 

In fact, Bush's proposals for these tribunals brought to mind one of the more odious chapters in Western history: the persecution of “witches.”  (Who, by the way, are about as real as Saddam's nuclear arsenal).  In the 15th century, the Catholic Church relied on the Malleus Malificarum (hammer of the witches) as its guidebook for eliminating suspected witches.  Two basic tenets: torture and the inability of the accused to hear the evidence against them. 

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