Thursday, August 28, 2008

Making the Case for Prosecution

In the latest Boston Review, Elaine Scarry makes the case for prosecuting Bush and Cheney for their crimes after they leave office, arguing that failing to do so will encourage the view that respect for the rule of law is simply a matter of personal preference. I'm skeptical about the criminal law as it's currently conceived; neither retribution nor deterrence nor rehabilitation seems to me to provide independent justification for the kinds of things the criminal justice system does--I'd prefer a system focused on restitution, restraint, and reconciliation. But it seems to me that Scarry is nonetheless right to stress that something needs to be done. Clearly, the craven Democrats in Congress can't be counted on to act, and Bush and Cheney have likely learned a lesson from the experience of Augusto Pinochet and will therefore avoid travel to countries with developed legal systems. But perhaps a local prosecutor, inspired by Vincent Bugliosi's arguments, will opt to file charges. We can hope, at any rate, that we won't be allowed to forget how unjustifiable and how terrible have been the abuses of human rights by this administration, both in the United States and abroad.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Slapping Down the Netroots

Senator Obama's selection of Delaware Democrat Joe Biden as his running mate looks nothing if not uninspired. That's true even if all you're concerned about is, say, his vote in support of an illegal war--or if you remember his light-weight performance as the overseer of the hearings on some of the most important and controversial judicial nominations of the last quarter-century. But if you care about issues like net neutrality, you've got even more reason to regard Biden as a disappointing choice.

Despite their initial enthusiasm for Obama, members of the netroots were justifiably disappointed by his sharp tilt to the right on issues like FISA. His decision to tap an opponent of digital freedom to join him on the campaign trail is a further sign of his seeming willingness to ignore elements of his core constituency.

Ironicallly, however, the Biden pick may give some netizens a new reason to vote for Obama--to get his running-mate out of the Senate and into a setting in which he can arguably do less damage.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Firing Your Boss

Many people's work environments--from factories to law firms--are deeply unpleasant and dehumanizing. This Australian pamphlet offers a variety of suggestions for changing the power dynamics in your workplace. It's all worth reading, though I have some reservations about the fairness of some of its proposals. The left-libertarian political economist Kevin Carson offers a spirited defense of even the more radical tactics for which it argues here (note that there's a good deal else in Carson's post, which forms an entire book chapter).

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Further Embarrassment

As with last month's impeachment hearings, so, too, with today's striking revelation from Ron Suskind that the President ordered the creation of back-dated intelligence to support the planned invasion of Iraq: where's the coverage of what a naive observer might think of as shocking and disturbing new about the abuse of presidential power? Again, I look in vain for up-front coverage in the on-line editions of the Washington Post and the New York Times.

If the multiple justifications for impeachment floated during the Judiciary Committee's hearings didn't provide sufficient reason to move forward with the trial, conviction, and removal from office of a president who has shown unequivocal contempt for the Constitution and the American people, is it too much to hope that what Suskind has to say will do so? (Suskind's own account is here.)