Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hubris and Self-Deception

I have a hard time understanding people who can fail again and again and still be convinced of their invincibility, infallibility, still feel that honey flows from their lips as they dispense wisdom and instruction upon their inferiors. I have a hard time understanding someone like Richard Perle.

Can we discuss this man? Has there ever been a person who more clearly illustrates the principle of failing upwards better than him? From his trashing of arms control treaties to his fevered insistence on ignoring international treaties and laws to his knee-jerk resort to military solutions to pretty much any problem that might arise, from Soviet expansionism to Korean missiles to Iranian nukes to Middle Eastern dictators, Perle has never met a situation that couldn't be resolved by shit talking and threats. He fancies himself a foreign policy intellectual, but he's really just an internationalist thug. I'm not one to scream accusations of imperialism willy-nilly like the staff of KPFA on an organic masala chai binge, but Richard Perle is a driven imperialist who just coincidentally happens to be a war profiteer.

So what's my point, besides the fact that I think Richard Perle is a reprehensible and loathsome human being? Well, given all that we know about Perle and especially the outcome of his preferred solution to the "Iraq Question," I find it particularly galling that he can still summon the audacity to accuse Condi Rice of incompetence and a lack of understanding of the Middle East.

Now, frankly, I wouldn't argue in favor of Rice's competence. But I argue against her competence primarily because she allied herself with Perle and his minions in the run-up to the war in Iraq. That is, I believe that she is incompetent mainly because she took advice in the first place from the guy who's now accusing her of being incompetent.

The fact that the architect of the biggest failure of foreign policy in American history—and let's not be shy, it's a failure in every regard—still feels free to open his arrogant yap and spout this idiocy demonstrates that the concept of shame in this country is dead. It also illustrates that the ability to deceive yourself into believing what you want to believe is uncurtailed by the repeated failure of reality to match those beliefs. Lastly, it's apparent that the staggering personal, societal, and national costs of Richard Perle's incompetence has failed to even dent his thick-headed solipsistic perceptions of the world.

In the end, I can accept that Richard Perle lives in a world of his own making and imagining. What I really don't understand is why anyone outside of that world bothers to listen to anything he says any more.

Monday, July 24, 2006

But it's YOUR war

I don't know Andrew Stuttaford's personal ideas on the War on Drugs, but it's interesting to see something like this come from The Corner on National Review Online. Let's keep in mind which side has been the hardest pimp for the War on Drugs. And yes, I know that Democrats have also, but primarily as a defensive maneuver against the Right's culture war.

That said, I know that William F. Buckley, the father of the National Review, has been a long-time critic of the WoD, so maybe that's the position of most common taters on The Corner, I dunno...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

John Yoo's Blinkered Vision

John Yoo's legal claims have always seemed pretty outrageous to me, if only because the world of constitutional law he constructed seemed so foreign to my concept of the most basic purposes of the Constitution. Compare Yoo's concepts of unchecked and unfettered executive authority to the clear balance of powers described in the Constitution. Compare the almost giddy flaunting of international agreements to the clear authority given to contractual obligations in Article VI of the Constitution. And Yoo's dismissal of the Geneva Conventions transgressed not just formal treaty obligations, but the most basic human decency and morality that separates the good from the evil.

But Yoo's quote from an article entitled The Court Enters the War, Loudly, about the possible effects of the Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld decision, seems to be both the most egregious thing I've ever read from this veritable font of egregiousness and the key to the major malfunction in Yoo's head:
"What the court is doing is attempting to suppress creative thinking," said Professor Yoo... "The court has just declared that it's going to be very intrusive in the war on terror. They're saying, 'We're going to treat this more like the way we supervise the criminal justice system.' "
Suppress creative thinking? First, let's be clear on the purpose of the legal counsel to the President of the United States. It is not to be creative. Instead, it's to make sure that the policies pursued by the administration conform to the limits imposed by legislative law, case law, and the Constitution. In fact, what the court was doing—and for the sake of the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law in this nation, we have to hope that they were doing it and not just attempting to do it—was declaring that Yoo's "creative thinking" was actually rubbish, legal gyrations "rebutted by ordinary principles of statutory construction," in the words of the decision. In fact, the majority opinion stated that Congress clearly didn't intend to offer the administration carte blanche legal authority to do any damned thing they decided:
Congress’ rejection of the very language that would have achieved the result the Government urges weighs heavily against the Government’s interpretation.
It's important to remember that people are often forced to think creatively precisely because of limits imposed by the milieu in which they are operating. A creative thinker can come up with many good ideas for ways to make money. This is an acceptable result of creative thinking, while this is not. John Yoo's "creative thinking" amounted to simply ignoring the strictures imposed by custom, law, and basic human morality. That's not creative, that's simply cheating.

Yoo's "creative thinking" has now been exposed for the failure that it is in every facet, as sloppy legal thinking, as un-American policy, as a shameful shortcut around American legal procedure that has brought us fatefully close to an American dictatorship and treated the founding document of our Republic as so much inconvenient claptrap to be circumvented and avoided. Yoo's name, legacy, and body of thought is stained with failure and rejection by the supreme legal body in this land. Here's hoping they stay there and no one ever asks Mr. Yoo to be creative again.

From Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land