Archive for May 22nd, 2009


Oh, Settle Down, Hippies

So I’m losing patience with the left. Or, as it is more normally typed on the internet,


Here’s the thing: I’m quite far left. However, having worked for long enough in serious-minded activism (meaning not just mindlessly chanting outside buildings, or joining angry-sounding Facebook groups…the stuff I do now), I know certain realities of society and the way it has to work in order to affect change. Here is the lesson I learned:

Politics. Is. Compromise.

In other words, there is no politics without a coalition. And there is no coalition without compromise.

I spent this morning watching the MSNBC pundits and civil libertarians of the web getting all frothy at the mouth about Obama’s speech. I subsequently spent the day depressed, the references to the movie “Minority Report” dancing in my head just the way sugarplums wouldn’t. And then I took a breath (meaning, a glass of wine), sat down, and read the more mainstream liberal media, which reminded me that my initial suspicions had indeed been correct:

The speech last night wasn’t perfect, for us hippies, but it was perfect for a politician.

Yes, “indefinite detention” is…well, troublesome. Verrrry troublesome. However, the beauty of this President is that, not only does he know that, but he tries to address the concerns of the very people in whose clubhouse he used to play (Constitutional Law geeks, many of whom attended an off-the-record meeting at the White House the day before the speech). Better yet, he’s man enough to take the Bush comparisons from them directly, then not give ground.

Lest I be accused of being a shallow idealogue, let’s imagine for a second that Obama didn’t even entertain the idea of overriding Habeus Corpus for any reason, ‘kay? What would that mean? It would mean that Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be out of prison tomorrow (all evidence against them being tainted by the torture they experienced. As Law and Order has taught me for 63 years now, fruit of a poisoned tree is always just that). I, personally, have little problem with that release, as a strict admirer of our civil liberties, and would even see it as a harbinger of a new dawn.


Anyone remember Willie Horton? Of course you do. He was the death knell of Dukakis’ career. And he was NOTHING, scandal-wise, compared to these two high-ranking Al Qaeda officials.

Do any members of the ACLU realistically think anyone (no matter how sparkly or miraculously beloved) who effectively pardons the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks for that crime will ever get elected to office ever?

And what if that weren’t the problem? What if society accepted that we are bound by the current legal system and therefore have to let these guys go? Would it then be a huge surprise to see a populist uprising occur against said existing legal system? Maybe a reversal of our current policies, which favor the rights of one wrongly-accused man over those of many guilty ones, towards the Napoleonic approach?

So, yes, I’m sad about the compromising Obama’s having to do. But it’s necessary, and it’s something that all people have to do in order to get along with other people (Ever have to put in a lunch order for a group at an office? Try finding a restaurant everyone likes/can afford if you’re ordering for millions.). And I’ll continue to commiserate in spirit with my beloved civil libertarian blogger friends, all of whom are necessary and consequential in their dissent, their rage, and their articulation of both (cause, hey, the president reads!). I’ll drink cheap wine, curse reality, and toast the death of my Unicorn King POTUS.

But I will get to call him POTUS for 8 years. And so will you.


When Did Rehabilitation Become Manditory Recitivism?

I’m just getting serious here for a second. About Guantanamo.

No, I’m not going to echo the left’s civil-libertarian outrage at the President’s seeming bait-and-switch on it. I may be naive, but I still think it’s going to get closed. Once Congress is brought in on the decision making, they say they’ll stop holding their breath too and vote for it. So I’m still just waiting to be outraged about that.

Here’s the thing, though: the arguments against transferring the detainees to U.S. prisons are getting to me.

Not the BUT THERE WILL BE TERRORISTS ROASTING LAMB ON OUR LAWNS!!! argument, which is so patently ridiculous as to not warrant retort. What I’m talking about is the more “reasonable” of the scare tactics being used by the right (and, let’s face it, Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein): If we let the detainees mingle with our current prisoners, they will become terrorists all.


Don’t get me wrong: I think neither that our current prison population is composed of happy workers paying their due, nor that there probably isn’t sympathy for sociopathy within the walls of your average SuperMax. What I am wondering, though, is what ever happened to our original penal system?

Let me explain…

The Quakers began this whole ball rolling, from what I remember from my days passing out in whiskey comas with the History Channel playing in the background. The point was that, if someone in society makes a mistake, you send them to prison to teach them how and why they shouldn’t make it again. They originally proposed the SuperMax idea (solitary confinement), for the purpose of religious reflection, believing that the criminal would one day Satori himself right back onto the straight and narrow. Given current SuperMax footage, it seems like said Satoris look more like skizophrenias, but the point is this: Prison, in this country, was meant to be for rehabilitation, not punishment.

When did our penal system devolve into such a state where we believe that–if confronted with the people who (allegedly) are the cruelest, most sociopathic of the Arab lot (as claim the Cheneys of the world reside in Gitmo)–our prisoners will side with them?? Is our current state of prisoner rehabilitation so tenuous (or, I fear, nonexistent) that we think that, if given the choice between going home to their families and helping out their community, or siding with the people who (again, allegedly) sympathize with perpetrators of the worst, cruelest, most hateful (and still recent) act ever to take place on American soil?

And, if the prison population is deemed so sociopathic already as to already have terrorist leanings, how long before they are also deemed too dangerous to even release?

Part of me (the Bay-Area-native part who mistrusts all things double-speak) is thinking that these fearmongers hyping Gitmo’s detainees as potential fomenters of a million societal rebellions are maybe right, and maybe know exactly of which they speak. They may know that mixing together people who have all been collectively locked away and forgotten about for little or no reason by the same society may find some common ground and rebel. Maybe they would. How best to show their rage?

Torch the banks and the credit card companies?
Torch Wall Street?
Publicly embarrass the U.S. around the world?
Elect a NEGRO to the White House?
Elect a SOCIALIST SECRET MUSLIM to the White House?


May 2009