Category Archives: politics

Good News on the Torture Front

pelosiReports today that both Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller were briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques, including water boarding, constitute an important and positive step, though maybe not for the two of them. This revelation offers the opportunity to move the debate beyond partisan posturing. Less heat, more light; hopefully, we recognize a consensus about misguided policies and legal judgments by men and women who can only aspire to Polonius-like bravery.



nyt-photoPablo Martinex Monsivais/AP
There continue to be moments of brilliance despite the newspaper meltdowns. Mazzetti and Shane in yesterday’s NYT offer an extraordinary glimpse of the Bush Administration and the wrangle over torture. Must reading; the accompanying photo couldn’t be telling.

Thanks to reader ASR for the ping.


hannah-arendtToday’s Frank Rich NYT op-ed, “The Banality of Bush White House Evil,” describes the who’s who of American torture policy, a rogues gallery of rationalization and mediocrity and best of intentions. And he connects the dots from waterboard to Baghdad.

Left unsaid is how the title, Hannah Arendt’s phrase used to describe Eichmann at his trial in Jerusalem (shocking when she first put forth the notion), traces the more troubling path from the theories of the Nazis (and the mild and mediocre men who made them) to Bradbury, Bybee, Yoo, and, yes, Cheney.

High-Value Detainees and High Crimes

I’ve steered clear of the debate around Bush Administration handling of detainees. Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish/Atlantic blog does a very good job of chronicling and carrying the flag. No actions by our government have ever upset me as much. I have little perspective and less tolerance; as a result, I’ve come to appreciate Obama’s approach. He’s got too much to do with economies and wars; best to drive looking out the windshield, not the rearview mirror.

That said, Philip Zelikow’s piece on Shadow Government (Foreign Policy) is insight from an insider. It deserves more attention.

Despite Zelikow’s nuanced read of the Bush approach:

The underlying absurdity of the administration’s position can be summarized this way. Once you get to a substantive compliance analysis for “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” you get the position that the substantive standard is the same as it is in analogous U.S. constitutional law. So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.

In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest — if the alleged national security justification was compelling. I did not believe our federal courts could reasonably be expected to agree with such a reading of the Constitution.

Thanks to reader ASR.

Bo Knows II

cover_newyorker_190This week’s cover
Despite prepping with the Kennedys, Bo arrives and the Obamas have their hands full. PWDs require a lot of attention, training, love. In the best of circumstances, they are engaging, funny, mouthy, needy. Their puppyhood extends beyond three years.
img_2041Roscoe at Bo’s age.
Roscoe, HPBlvd mascot, is just about three. Would that Bo turn out as well.

Meanwhile, this is a small breed that depends on quality breeders. Keeping PWDs away from puppy mills and the inevitable demand will be a chore. We can hope for the best.

Minding the Store

chicago-mapGary Goehl, writing a Times Op-Ed, reflects on the phenomenon that is Blago and offers a first person perspective on what Chicago politics is really all about:

My services to the city of Chicago throughout the 1970s included exuberant participation in corrupt practices for which I pleaded guilty in 1984 and spent 18 months in federal prison. My venality may have known no bounds — at the time of my conviction some said that I was the recipient of more illegal loans than any civic official in Chicago history — but I was a relatively low man on the totem pole: a deputy sheriff and deputy county treasurer.

There’s a lot of bluff talk about Chicago politics, Chicago corruption. The structure isn’t different from Boston politics or Washington politics. Some may say it’s more cut-throat, but I was in Boston during the reign of Billy and Whitey Bulger (the latter, lionized in Scorsese’s terrific The Departed, is still on the lam) and it felt pretty familiar. On a smaller scale, but Boston (especially in those years) didn’t have the big business or population density.

As for me, I’m looking forward to Goehl’s book. Thanks to reader TC.

Building the Brand

obama-soxYou can’t do much better than have the Prez wearing your hat and claiming that Harold Baines is his favorite player. USA Today mulls how the black hat with Gothic-script “SOX,” once a rap-star favorite, is now the international symbol for Obama’s USA.

2008_03_obamafordreams_shir1The Sox, meanwhile, have been blocked by MLB from making caps with Obama logo, and t-shirt manufacturers have been stymied in attempts to create hybrids.

Sometimes, the best marketing/branding is no marketing/branding, when monkeying around dilute the authenticity of it. Grab a black slouch hat, tune in on Hawk and Stoney, and enjoy. It’s baseball time.