Saturday, September 19, 2009

Conservatism We Can Listen To

Unlike the shrill Beckian Hannityoff gibberish that passes for conservatism these days, is a place one can go to and actually listen to various streams of conservative thought without cringing.  This is David Frum's attempt at leading conservatism out of the wilderness with some kind of coherent ideology.  I applaud him for this effort because the country needs a vibrant right that presents a reasonable counterpoint to the left.  Reasonable because so long as it isn't, it is too easy to simply dismiss the right as a bunch of crackpots, and therefore dismiss their good ideas as well.

Case in point:  Frum's ongoing argument with David Horowitz about the man of the moment, Glenn Beck himself.  Basically, Frumpsky dissed the Beckster for falsely attacking someone, to which Horowitz (who admires the Beckmeister) said this:
Our country is under assault by a determined, deceitful and powerful left which will stop at nothing to realize its goals. Facing them, I would rather have Glenn Beck out there fighting for our side than 10,000 David Frums who think that appeasing leftists will make them think well of us. No it won’t. It will only whet their appetite for our heads.
Frum hit back:
Horowitz agrees that Beck’s attack on Sunstein was false. Yet that falsehood does not worry Horowitz. The country is “under assault.” (As the broadcaster Mark Levin has said, President Obama is “literally at war” with the American people.) In a war, truth must yield to the imperatives of victory. Any conservative qualms about the untruth of Beck’s defamation of Sunstein amounts to “appeasement” – an appeasement that will end with the left decapitating the right. This is the language and logic of Leninism. There is no truth or falsehood comrades, there is only service to the revolution or betrayal of the revolution.
Ouch.  It is nice to see someone on the right be able to call out falsehoods without having to abandon their core principles.  Those like Horowitz who see this as a war between the right and the left have preemptively justified all tactics--good and bad--as necessary for defeating those evil liberals.  And here I was, thinking that the right stood for defending American values, especially morality.

To be sure, there is still some looniness at; but IMHO, no more so than at huffiingtonpost or any other talk site.  It's just nice to have an alternative for a change.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guilty Until Proven Guilty

The Connecticut medical examiner's office confirmed today what was apparent from the beginning of this tragic case, that Yale student Annie Le was indeed murdered.  For some time now, the media has been reporting titillating details about one of the police's "persons of interest," Raymond Clark, who worked as a lab technician on campus.  We know that the police detained him yesterday in order to take DNA samples and also searched his home and car.  We also know, thanks to the breathless journalists on the chase, where Mr. Clark lives, what kind of vehicle he drives, the name of his fiancee, his criminal record, and for all we know, his brand of toothpaste.

Now, this astonishing piece of investigative "journalism" from ABC News that all but condemns Mr. Clark as the murderer based on unnamed sources, scattered facts, innuendo, blog entries by his fiancee from last year, and "suspicions" voiced by a neighbor.  ABC News also ominously tells us that Mr. Clark's landlord served an eviction notice on him to kick him out of his apartment.

Have I mentioned the fact that Raymond Clark is not under arrest?  The police briefly detained and then released him because they do not have enough evidence to arrest him.  Here's what the New Haven Police Chief had to say:
At a press conference Wednesday evening New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said Clark has retained an attorney and therefore could not be questioned further.

Lewis refused to comment on whether there was a relationship between Clark and Le beyond working together in the same building. He would not speculate as to a potential motive.

The chief would not confirm whether Le had been a victim of sexual assault.

Clark is being monitored by the police. Authorities continue to question other people in the building but they have not served search warrants against anyone else.

"We're still in the process. We don't want to be accused of tunnel vision. We're still making sure who was in that building," said Lewis.

But, ABC Noise has no problem with tunnel vision, getting around the inconvenient fact that Raymond Clark was not actually arrested with this "journalistic" masterpiece of convoluted logic:
ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett said that though he had been investigated by authorities for days, it's likely police did not take Clark into custody sooner because he was not a threat to other students.

"If you do not believe they are a danger to anyone else, then you may let him go," Garrett said. "If this is a crime of passion, you're not concerned about anyone else."
Brilliant.  The fact that he was not arrested immediately is itself highly suggestive that he is guilty.  What the fug do they teach in journalistic ethics these days?

If the facts are so damn clear that Raymond Clark did it, then arrest him already.  Until then, the New Haven Police Chief should plug his leaky department and stop enabling the media that has already judged him guilty.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Citizen Hussein

In his beautifully titled post from June this year, Civis Americanus Sum, Daniel May criticized the Obama Administration's inaction towards the plight of the two American journalists imprisoned by North Korea after a sham conviction. He wrote:

In 1848, a mob ransacked the home of Don Pacifico, a British citizen living in Greece. Local police did not intervene to stop the mob, and the Greek government refused to compensate Pacifico for damage to his property after the attack. Though Pacifico had never even set foot in the British Isles (he was born in Gibraltar), Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston sent a squadron of the Royal Navy to blockade the port of Athens and force the Greek government to repay Pacifico.
After the House of Lords moved to censure Palmerston for his rash use of military force, he delivered a powerful five-hour address defending his decisive action. “As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say Civis Romanus sum; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England, will protect him against injustice and wrong.”
Barack Obama could learn a thing or two from Lord Palmerston when it comes to protecting American citizens abroad. Palmerston certainly would not have allowed two of his country’s journalists to sit in a North Korean prison after a sham conviction on trumped-up charges. What is the Obama foreign policy team going to do about it?
We know how that story ended. In August, Bill Clinton, with the apparent blessing of the Obama Administration, was able to secure the release of Euna Lee and Laura Ling (who are Korean- and Chinese-American respectively. Their employer, Al Gore, thanked the State Department for its help:
"It speaks well of our country that when two American citizens are in harm's way, that so many people will just put things aside and just go to work to make sure that this has had a happy ending," he said.
Indeed. Stories like these of America rescuing its citizens from far-flung lands abound, filling us with pride that our citizenship means something. This is so important that one U.S. Army unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, regularly trains with this mission in mind. The U.S. Marines and Navy are also prepared for such an eventuality. Go to any U.S. Embassy website and you will find a plan for emergency evacuations.

Civis Americanus sum. I am an American citizen. This is not merely a descriptive statement, but an assertive one, claiming all the rights and duties imbued in that citizenship, an idea the Romans held in highest esteem. Two thousand years ago, when the apostle Paul was capriciously flogged and imprisoned at Philippi (in Greece) for preaching his new-fangled faith, he famously asserted his Roman citizenship, and his captors were "terrified" and let him go (Acts 16:35-40). Later, he was arrested in Jerusalem for "causing a stir" and held in Caesarea Maritima for two years without a trial until the new governor heard his case; Paul again asserted his Roman citizenship and appealed to Caesar for a trial under Roman law. That the trial ended badly for Paul should not obscure the fact that his assertion of civis Romanus sum was heard and upheld. Whether he was Jewish or, worse, Christian did not deprive him of his right to due process as a Roman citizen.

Caesarea Maritima is located on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Israel, 40 km from Tel Aviv. The ruins are stunning; one can see Herod's palace, a hippodrome (stadium), and a restored amphitheater against a backdrop of the gorgeous blue-green Mediterranean waters. When I visited it a month ago, I was struck by the fact that if Paul were alive today and, say, an American citizen, he would assert civis Americanus sum! and get our government to pressure Israel on his behalf. And I would expect our government to do no less. But, if Paul were an Arab American, he would be sorely disappointed in our government's response.

I knew before I went there that Israel treats Palestinian Arabs differently than Jewish Israelis and foreign citizens. Unlike the latter groups, Palestinian Arabs are not allowed to travel outside the West Bank or Gaza. A lucky few can get permits to work in Israel, but these are limited in scope, must be renewed every four months, and can be revoked at any time. But then I learned that Israel also treats foreign citizens differently depending on their ethnic heritage. I heard stories about Arab Americans being subjected to the same restrictions as Palestinians, while non-Arab Americans can travel freely in Israel. At first, I naively refused to believe that our government would permit such discriminatory treatment of American citizens abroad. Then I saw this on the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem's website:

Palestinian-Americans Must Enter Through Allenby. For some time, the government of Israel has not permitted Americans with Palestinian nationality (or even, in some cases, the claim to it) to enter Israel via Ben Gurion Airport. Many are sent back to the U.S. upon arrival, though some are permitted in, but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion without special permission (which is rarely granted). Families have had to travel separately back to the United States in some cases, and some travelers have had to forfeit expensive airline tickets. Please check with the government of Israel -- via their Embassy in Washington -- before you travel that you will be able to enter and depart through Ben Gurion.
Haaretz also reported last month that a Palestinian Canadian businessman was denied entry into Israel because of his heritage.

It's one thing for Israel to have such policies. That debate is outside the scope of this post. It's another thing for America to stand quietly by while some of her citizens face such treatment, based on nothing other than their ethnic heritage. I was heartened to see the State Department issue a press release last month taking Israel to task for this discrimination:
We have repeatedly told the Government of Israel that the United States expects that all American citizens to be treated equally, regardless of their national origin or other citizenship. We have let the Government of Israel know that these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers and are not acceptable.
That's good, but not good enough. Condoleeza Rice also "told them" the same thing back in 2006. Last I checked, we still provide $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel (pdf link), funded in part by tax paying Arab Americans.

Civis Americanus sum means less than we think.