One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to discuss the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning is the weird phenomenon of bandwagoning the issue creates. Working backwards from “WikiLeaks is good,” his staunchest supporters seem to reason that the release of thousands of classified State Department cables is good; therefore the person who released them (as Manning apparently claimed he did) was justified in his action; therefore any punishment of him is unjust and cruel. I’ve lost count of the number of irritating, undergraduate-level Nineteen Eighty-Four references made in this vein.
Manning’s guilt or innocence notwithstanding for the moment, the hapless private has been turned into an avatar by two factions who seek to use his case to move their respective flags forward. There are the WikiLeakers, who, while seeking greater transparency in government, seem to have convinced themselves that any state secret is intolerable. And there are, tragically in my view, those champions of LGBT rights who believe Manning is being treated unjustly specifically due to his struggles with sexuality and gender identity – and they seem willing to ignore or wave aside any wrongs he may have actually committed.
Seeing as Newt Gingrich’s prospects are predictably fading as the Iowa caucuses draw nigh, it might be beside the point to highlight one of the stupidest things said on the Republican debate stage thus far (in a very wide field). But I’m sure no one here will mind kicking Newt and his Death Star-sized head a bit while he’s down.
During the debate last Thursday, Gingrich said that as president he would be willing to “abolish” federal judges, and subpoena justices who make “unpopular” (with Congress or him, one is left to wonder) decisions to appear before Congress and account for themselves, since the courts have become “grotesquely dictatorial and far too powerful.”
(And, apparently, the decisions they write explaining exactly why they reasoned the way they did are hard to read.)
I was gobsmacked (and so was our own asiangrrlMN, who at this point threw in the towel on her live blog of the debate, which I kind of wish I had done, too). Was Newt really saying, as the GOP’s self-titled “Big Thinker,” that he does not believe in an independent judiciary?
I first saw an American “Hellfire” missile while covering a U.S. Army training exercise near the DMZ in South Korea*. It was loaded on an Apache AH-64 attack helicopter, which was bristling with weaponry that also included a pod of 2.76” Hydra rockets and a vicious-looking, swivel-mounted chain gun under its nose, which I was informed fired explosive 30-milimeter rounds and was “linked” to a monocle attached to the gunner’s helmet – meaning that the gun always pointed at exactly what the gunner was looking at.
These were details I learned after being nearly tackled by the sergeant in charge of the refueling point – I had innocently wandered around the front of the aircraft, hoping to get some usable file photos of the division’s Apaches up close. A rule I hadn’t yet heard held that under no circumstances should anyone ever walk in front of that chain gun.
“It’s bad juju,” the NCO told me, as I dusted off my BDUs.
[Hi, Angry Black Readers. This is a guest-post by friend of ABLC, Ian Boudreau, who is a science writer in North Carolina. You can contact him at @iboudreau on Twitter. asiangrrlMN.]
When The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf sat down to write a response to Jonathan Chait’s excellent essay for New York Magazine (“When did liberals become so unreasonable,” Nov. 20th), the results were predictably, well, unreasonable.
Friedersdorf’s title alone (for which he may not be directly responsible) is enough to cause eye-rolling: “Why do liberals keep sanitizing the Obama story?”
The list of grievances is a familiar one to anybody who has kept even passingly abreast of liberal intellectuals’ responses to current events over the past three years: the Obama administration has expanded the use of drone strikes in the Afghan theater; they have done nothing to roll back the ancien régime’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens or collection of powers to the executive; they have continued apace with the “war on drugs,” etc. Friedersdorf also makes several claims that range from bizarre, to egregiously misleading, and in some cases flatly false: the Obama administration is collating a “secret kill list” of American citizens (this an apparent reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, the “American” member of al Qaeda who served as the group’s chief English-language propagandist and who died September 30th in a fairly unsurprising manner); it is responsible for an “Orwellian turn” of airport security procedures; it illegally entered into the conflict in Libya earlier this year.
Even if you were to grant Friedersdorf his laundry list of complaints against Obama (and I don’t), his post is a protracted non sequitur that talks past Chait’s thesis so as to give Friedersdorf a fresh opportunity to re-air his personal grievances.
(Click for more dissection of Friedersdorf’s piece on Chait)