hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, March 25, 2011
Arthur Silber - Sick, Broke and Scared

I'm still recovering from the ailments that landed me in the hospital again recently. . .

. . .It would be helpful to have access to semi-decent, ongoing medical care; since I have no money and no insurance, that's not an option for me. So I'm left to wonder about what exactly may be going on.

By the end of next week, I'll have to pay the April rent, electric and telephone bills, plus a few additional outstanding bills. And I'll need to get two prescriptions refilled. One of them costs $200. Yes: $200 per month (30 pills, one a day). Thanks to some very kind individuals who have sent in donations recently (a multitude of thanks, as always), I have a little less than half of the rent. That's all I have. . .

. . .Obviously, I could use some help. I still want/hope to complete some long-planned articles; if I get a little more strength back, I'll turn my attention to them. The few recent posts that have appeared here burst forth because of the outrage I was feeling about current events. The other articles awaiting completion are considerably more complicated and require that I hold a lot of information in my head. At the moment, I simply can't do it, try as I might.

I'm deeply grateful for any support you might be able to provide, especially in these increasingly uncertain times. . .

Many, many thanks for your consideration.


I guess the only opinion I have on Libya is that the concerns of Turkey and the Arab League should be treated with respect and taken seriously, and not ridiculed. Yglesias's post "in defense of half measures", Juan Coles' posts, Alan Grayson's suggestion for an oil embargo, have all been interesting.

Jay Ackroyd - Clarity

. . .[the voters] want jobs, retirement security and a health care system that doesn't threaten them with bankruptcy. No matter how frequently he and his fellow Beltway denizens characterize those voters as wanting the moon, these are not unreasonable demands. . .

Tony Judt - Ill Fares the Land

. . .We need to become confident once again in our own instincts: if a policy or an action seems somehow wrong, we must find the words to say so. . .

. . .. . .Social democrats are characteristically modest - a political quality whose virtues are overestimated. We need to apologize a little less for past shortcomings and speak more assertively of achievements. That these were always incomplete should not trouble us. If we have learned nothing else from the 20th century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences. . .

. . .Social democracy does not represent an ideal future; it does not even represent the ideal past. But among the options available to us today, it is better than anything else to hand. . .

Stephen Fry (podgram 2.1):

"In the end I like structures that are human-shaped, not idea-shaped and humans are great heaps of inconsistency, ambiguity and complexity."

I guess a running theme in my mind lately is the importance of preferring, in certain contexts, judgement & discretion & human beings to rigid rules.

Two examples which hit me when I read them in Ben Bradlee's memoir (which Gene Lyons always calls "disarmingly frank")

p. 45
"we had pretty much a permanent black jack game going. . .I forget the stakes except they that they were higher than I could afford. But I won - a few hundred dollars. In fact, everyone won, except Bill Haskell, who couldn't afford it either. And suddenly he owed everyone - a few thousand dollars. In varying degrees we began to feel sorry for him, but we had won it, and each felt sure we would have had to pay up had we lost it, or quit before our losses got too big. . .

. . .My father was as sore as he ever got. Quiet, but serious. First, he announced that I was no longer a creditor. Haskell owed me nothing, since I didn't have the money to pay him if I had lost that much, and he would not have bailed me out. He told Dick Cutler that he knew the stakes were too high for him, too. Potter and Tuckerman were better off than we were, but he let them have it, asking them if they enjoyed watching a friend squirm just because he wanted to be part of our crowd. We were all enormously relieved, truth to tell. Someone called Haskell with the news, and we adjourned to the living room for a big pitcher of Martinis - unaware of the importance of the moment in our lives. . ."

p. 65
"We used to gamble - for high stakes because there was no place to spend money - but that had pretty much been outlawed by our skipper, Tommy Ragan. . .All of a sudden "Tubes" owed me more than $4,000, which approximated a year's pay. When the captain heard about the debt, he ordered me to play double or nothing until I lost, and then quit playing for money. Took me three boards."

Don't you sort of wish Ben Bradlee's father or skipper had been in charge of HAMP the past few years?

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I believe in subscriber-funded journalism, and would like to have a paid digital subscription to the NYT, but they're charging too much. If I, living in the bay area, would like to give some dollar-votes to 1-2 international papers, 1-2 national papers, 1-2 regional papers, 1-2 county-level papers, + 1-2 periodicals, 1-2 radio stations & 1-2 TV stations, how can I justify $15 a month for the NYT, unless the NYT happens to be your first choice for international & national & regional & local news?

question: How does rugby compare to football concerning CTE? What about boxing with helmets?

An interesting post on the subject:

Scipio Tex - Is Football As We Know It About To End?

Friday, March 18, 2011
Two comments in the Radley Balko comment thread on Bradley Manning.


Part of me views Manning as a Kevin Mitnick case of someone who did commit a crime and then was so severely fucked over so hard and so much that the original crime is really trivial in comparison. The question is, who has done the greater evil? . . .

. . .Lots of whistleblowers leak information because they have a grudge or are vindictive, and I don’t think that appreciably cheapens the value of the truth that eventually comes out. Holding governments accountable would be a lot harder if we only used information leaked by altruistic whistleblowers. . .


. . .I have not seen any credible information that would lead me to believe that Manning should not be considered a whistleblower. In fact, in the partial chat logs released (from the chat that led to his arrest), when Lamo asks Manning why he didn’t sell the information…

Manning: because it’s public data

Lamo: i mean, the cables

Manning: it belongs in the public domain – information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open… it should be a public good. . .

Manning may have been wrong, but in no way can he be considered a traitor, and the attempt on the part of the authorities to paint Manning as a worse criminal than Charles Graner (Abu Ghraib) or Andrew Warren (sexual abuse) is a serious, and totally avoidable and unnecessary, injustice.

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Allen McDuffee - Investigating Manning: A Tale of Two Editorials

. . .Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations Col. David Lapan, who wrote a line-by-line account of Manning’s status.

Quantico is a military brig, not a prison, and it is not a maximum security facility. http://www.quantico.usmc.mil/activities/display.aspx?PID=588&Section=SECBN
Manning, however, is considered a maximum custody detainee. He is not "under isolation 23 hours a day." Here are the facts of his pre-trial confinement:

PFC Manning is not in solitary confinement. He has a single-occupancy cell, like all of the other detainees.
PFC Manning is not in isolation.
PFC Manning is a maximum custody detainee in a prevention of injury status.
PFC Manning is not currently on suicide watch.
PFC Manning is being held in the same quarters section with other pre-trial detainees
PFC Manning is allowed to watch television and read newspapers.
PFC Manning is allowed one-hour per day to exercise.
PFC Manning is provided well-balanced, nutritious meals three times a day.
PFC Manning receives visitors and mail and can write letters.
PFC Manning routinely meets with doctors and his attorney.
PFC Manning is allowed telephone calls.
PFC Manning is being treated just like every other detainee in the brig.

Also, there is no 'daily disrobing and various other humiliations.' In recent days, as the result of concerns for PFC Manning's personal safety, his undergarments were taken from him during sleeping hours. PFC Manning at all times had a bed and a blanket to cover himself. He was not made to stand naked for morning count but, but on one day, he chose to do so. There were no female personnel present at the time. PFC Manning has since been issued a garment to sleep in at night. He is clothed in a standard jumpsuit during the day. . .

comment by Eric Jaffa:

Manning is only allowed to have visitors on weekends.

There are no prisoners close enough for him to talk to.

The one-hour-per-day he can watch TV or exercise or shower is the same hour. He doesn't get an hour for each.

Saying a prisoner "is not in solitary confinement" is misleading when there is no one close enough for him to talk to in his cell & he isn't allowed to be around other prisoners.

The "exercise" outside his cell he's allowed is walking in circles while wearing shackles.

Manning is not being treated like any other detainee at Quantico. David Coombs (Manning’s lawyer):

David E. Coombs - Response to Pentagon Press Secretary

” . . .PFC Manning is the only detainee at Quantico that is being held both in Maximum custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. The POI watch is being continued over the recommendation of mental health professionals . . .The conditions imposed on PFC Manning under the POI watch (which have been ongoing for 8 months) are unduly harsh and punitive in nature. . .”

” . . .Briefly, under POI watch, the guards check on PFC Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is okay; PFC Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner . . .”

“Other detainees typically are removed from Maximum custody and from POI watch once they demonstrate, through their behavior, that the conditions are no longer warranted. Under Secretary of the Navy Instruction (SECNAVINST) 1649.9C, Maximum custody and POI are intended to be used sparingly and for a limited duration of time. Despite the Navy Instruction, PFC Manning remains subject to unduly harsh confinement conditions”

I’d think doing this every 5 minutes every waking hour for 8 months would be dangerous for anyone’s mental health, bad for the detainee and bad for the guards forced to carry out these orders.

David E. Coombs - A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning

"He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop."

I can't think of any legitimate reason to prevent him exercising in his cell.

I wouldn't necessarily call it it "torture", I would call it treatment deliberately designed to mess with someone's head. I don't understand why the Quantico leaders don't take the recomendation of their staff psychiatrists, lift the POI watch, and put a stop to this.

Radley Balko - Bradley Manning and the Ones Who Walk Away From Obama

. . .Manning is getting far worse treatment than Timothy McVeigh, Jared Loughner, or your run-of-the-mill serial killer. It’s important to remember here that Manning didn’t covertly leak classified information to a foreign enemy. He leaked classified information to a website knowing that all of it would eventually be published. That’s an important difference. Manning knew that the U.S. government would know what information was leaked, and that it would know who would have access to the leaked information (everyone). The U.S. government has also conceded that it’s unlikely Manning’s leaks did any substantial harm.

That’s a much less serious offense than that of, say, Aldrich Ames, who secretly turned classified information over to a hostile nation, and whose treachery resulted in the deaths of CIA assets. Moreover, the government didn’t know the extent of the information Ames had sold, making the actual harm quite a bit worse. Yet Manning is also getting far worse treatment than Ames ever got. . .

Sunday, March 13, 2011
It seems to me that the treatment of Bradley Manning represents a case where, not for the first time, the entire body of elite respectable opinion seems to have lost their minds. Whether or not Wikileaks and "radical transparency" is a good or bad thing, whether or not Bradley Manning did a bad, or at least a problematic, thing, are reasonable questions.

My personal opinion is that in this decade we were taken into a very bloody war in part on the basis of secret classified information, which seemed intimidating and convincing at the time, but turned out to be untrue, and in parts fabricated. In an environment like that, more transparency seems more good than bad, though online leaks probably are not the best way to bring that about.

But that's only question 1. Even if you believe Bradley Manning did a bad or problematic thing, the next, absolutely vital, question, is How bad a thing is it? This is where elite respectable opinion seems to have lost their minds, their bearings, their morality.

Is what Bradley Manning did worse than what Andrew Warren did, who got 5 years for sexual abuse? Is what he did worse than what Charles Graner did, who got 10 years for leading the Abu Ghraib abuses? Clearly, unequivocally, absolutely not. Yet we have the prosecuting authorities, treating Bradley Manning not only worse than they treated Warren or Graner, but much, much worse, and threatening him with a much longer sentence. What on earth are they thinking?

A reasonable outcome to the Bradley Manning case, if you take the view that his whistle blowing was too broad, would be a charge of mishandling classified information, and some sort of reprimand, similar to the soldiers who tried to cover up the circumstances of Pat Tillman's death, burning not only his uniform but his diary as well. i.e. bad conduct, but forgivable bad conduct. Instead, he's been subjected to treatment that is more extreme than that given for a violent criminal.

The only justification the elites have given for their actions is that Bradley Manning has the blood of US soldiers on his hands. I don't believe it. The extravagant claims for the Wikileaks classified docs are similar to the extravagant claims made for the Wen Ho Lee case & Saddam's WMD. I think we'll find they have a similar relationship to the truth.

My thanks to PJ Crowley for speaking out, confirming that there are people in the US government with good judgement, good sense and humanity, and I'm sorry for what happened to him as a result of it.

Glenn Greenwald - WH forces P.J. Crowley to resign for condemning abuse of Manning

I see Jack Shafer claiming that the treatment of Bradley Manning is for his safety. I'd assume that Shafer hasn't been following the story. What safety justification could there be for not allowing him to exercise in his cell, or for deliberately stopping short of suicide watch, because suicide watch would involve calling in actual psychiatrists, who would confirm Manning is not at threat for self-harm? The concern for Manning's safety is a cover story, not the truth.

Will Bunch

"I don't want to have people who just agree with me. I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone."

-- Barack Obama, June 18, 2008.

. . .somebody -- a good man, a decent man, and a respected spokesman for the U.S. State Department -- pushed Obama out of his comfort zone this week. And so what happened? -- the Obama administration forced him out of his job. Apparently Obama does just want to have people who agree with him. . .

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thinking about Libya, the approach I think makes the most sense is making a list of everything it's possible for us to do concerning Libya, and apply (Dr.) Ben Carson's Best Case / Worst Case Analysis for each of them:

. . .Best Case / Worst Case Analysis: A Primer for Deciding When to Take a Risk

When wrestling with an important decision, Dr. Ben Carson suggests asking yourself these four questions:

1. What is the best thing that can happen if I do this?
2. What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?
3. What is the best thing that can happen if I don’t do it?
4. What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do it?

“I think through these questions from my point of view, that of the patient, the parents and any other party involved, and by the time I’m done I know that I have considered just about every possible scenario and outcome,” Dr. Carson insists. . .

There are things we can do concerning Libya which are worth the risk, and other things which are not. The question in Libya is should we make an attempt to throw sand in the gears of Gadaffi's killing machine, and risk getting involved in another Somalia, or worse? Daniel Davies has an emphatic post against intervening, but also links to Peter Galbraith's interview, which contains the best possible case for intervening, one which didn't convince Davies.

If there is one thing we have learned from Aghanistan and Iraq, it's that the military should not nation-build, and should not occupy, unless there is no choice. But that's not what's being called for in Libya. The issue is, when the people in power start killing people indiscriminately, what options do we have to stop it, or deter it, or make the people in power even slightly afraid of continuing to do it?

You don't have to be an enthusiast for military action to think we have some options for trying to stop a massacre we are witnessing, other than 10-year occupation or complete helplessness.

William Burton:

". . .I thought that we should make it stated policy to go after the leadership of the "rogue states" rather than simply killing off their armies of draftees as if poor teenagers were somehow stand-ins for the scumbags themselves. . .(I know all the legal/ethical/practical problems with this approach, but it's still far preferable to smart-bombing a few hundred thousand people into graves while their leaders walk)."

Friday, March 11, 2011
Obsidian Wings - Earthquake in Japan

NY Times coverage of Libya

Obsidian Wings - how do you like living in Omelas? (Bradley Manning)

Glenn Greenwald - Amnesty calls for protests over Bradley Manning's treatment

Charlie deTar: There's an elephant in the room during this discussion: Wikileaks. The US government is torturing a whistleblower in prison right now. How do we resolve a conversation about the future of new media in diplomacy with the government’s actions regarding Wikileaks?

Crowley: I spent 26 years in the air force. What is happening to Manning is ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid, and I don't know why the DoD is doing it.

Obsidian Wings - FOGcon literary convention in San Francisco

Dorothy L Sayers - Are Women Human?

from the foreword by Mary McDermott Shideler:

. . .biological characteristics determine in part the kinds of work that any human being is capable of. But degrees of bodily strength, muscular co-ordination, auditory and visual acuity, stolidity and excitability, cut across the classifications by sex, color, background, age, and intelligence. . .

. . .as we cannot afford to squander our natural resources of minerals, food and beauty, so we cannot aford to discard any human resources of brains, skills, and initiative. . .any natural or human resource can be good or evil depending upon how it is used, what work it performs. . .

notes on financial reform and austerity:

Henry T. C. Hu & Terrance Odean - Paying for Old Age (NYT op-ed)

Leading question: To what extent do our finance-sector intermediaries resemble the Somali warlords in Phil Hartman's "Clinton at McDonalds" sketch?

My opinions on UCB's "Austerity" panel go with my opinions on financial reform.

It seems to me that the goal of financial reform should be to allow the small, outsider, passive investor to get, as John Bogle always says, their "fair share" of the returns, with minimum fuss and minimum fraud. The reason I had no strong opinion on financial reform is that I have no idea what the fair share of a small, outsider, passive, investor should be. It obviously should not be as much as the manager, taking line responsibility for a piece of a revenue stream. It also shouldn't be as much as an active, informed investor, who tries to develop expertise in order to get above-average returns. (in practice, passive investors often do better than active investors. But this seems to me one of those facts that, even if it's true, you shouldn't rely on) But how big a toll is it fair to expect SOPI to pay to these savvy insiders? I didn't & don't know, and therefore had no strong opinion on financial reform.

Discussing Austerity, Delong says big downturns are

Bad for workers
Bad for entrepreneur and managers
Bad for equity holders
Bad for governments
Bad for bondholders

And so asks why should it be difficult to build political consensus for recession-fighting policy i.e. running deficits and printing money. I would counter that question with another question: If I am employed, why is it in my interest to to support the government assuming an extra $20K of public debt in order to create a job? That's one objection, from the currently employed, that they get a burden of a new debt without sharing in the benefit of a new job.

The objection to printing money obviously comes from people who fear inflation. Who fears inflation? People who a) have assets and b) fear that they lack access to an inflation hedge. Why do a significant number of people fear they lack access to an inflation hedge? I would argue because they don't trust either the equity or bond markets to deal fairly with them, for some reason. In other words, they're SOPIs' afraid of not getting Bogle's "fair share", afraid of being cheated by either managers, or informed investors, or both.

Another way to put it: When SOPIs' can't or won't trust the asset markets to provide an inflation hedge for the basket of goods they're interested in, they will not be in favor of running deficits or printing money.

yet another way to put it: When the citzen doesn't trust the experts, active policy dies.

One way to deal with this fear of inflation might be to issue more TIPS, perhaps even an asset specifically tied to a retiree basket of goods, i.e. TRIPS.

A Brad Delong post, and 2 comments to it that have stuck in my head:

Brad Delong - Neoliberal Economists Agonistes

Once we had concluded that the Federal Reserve had the tools and the competence to absorb financial shocks. . .Leverage then appears to be a positive good rather than a danger. . .

. . .And they are the result of the economists' insight that whenever there is an area of economic activity that pays huge, outsized rewards the odds are that we need more of it done. . .

Bill Murray said...

Doesn't this imply that we need more drug running and illegal arms sales? Those are certainly said to pay huge, outsized rewards.

David Petraitis said in reply to Bill Murray...


And this is where economics parts ways with politics. For politics as we learn in Civics 101 is the use of power to do the greatest good for the greatest number, not just for Number 1. What Delong's Apologeia says is: what we needed more of in the run up to the Great Recession was more NINJA loans. . .what we need now is more foreclosures...

What we need now, in short, is whatever the princes of Wall Street (and other people in the know) deem will pay outsized rewards. OMG

I guess the obvious point is that there's a difference between creating value and capturing value. An example which goes the other way is Sun & Java: probably no for-profit company created more value than Sun did with Java, without being able to capture any of it for itself.

Even if you acknowledge that there is a real distinction between capturing and creating value, it's not clear what, if anything, you should do about it. The policy implications are very tricky, I think, and possibly too confusing and subtle to be really useful. But it's probably something worth keeping at the back of your mind.

Sunday, March 06, 2011
We're sometimes told that since Bradley Manning is under the UCMJ, what's happening now is perfectly just and appropriate, and we civilians just don't understand. If that's the case, why wasn't Oliver North executed for selling weapons to Ayatollah Khomeini? Why was he even spared a dishonourable discharge, if there is "no choice" but to enforce the UCMJ, no matter what the circumstances? Why was no one charged from the UCMJ for lying in the aftermath of Pat Tillman's death? (in an apparent attempt to cover up the circumstances of his death, not only was his uniform burnt, but so was his diary) In reality, no law, no code, can work without judgment, discretion & common sense. Those who pretend they have no discretion are in fact the worst abusers of their discretion.

Bradley Manning leaked the lowest level of classified documents, documents which had zero safeguards and protection, with intent to expose abuses and the reality of war. Maybe he was wrong, but to try him as a serious criminal, let alone a "traitor", is immoral and unjust. Charles Graner got 10 years for what he did. Andrew Warren got 5 years for sexual abuse. If the powers that be think what Bradley Manning did is comparable to what Charles Graner or Andrew Warren did, or even close, they are revealing a skewed sense of priorities, that in the judgment of the prosecuting authorities, actually commiting violent crimes is not as serious as leaking documents which might challenge the official version of the story.

Vincent Bugliosi - Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder

p. 175:

The irony is that those who say they never lie usually (not always) lie more than those who are at least truthful enough to admit they lie. And they lie in the very worst way possible, to further their own interests at the expense of others. One is reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson's remark that "the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons"

Saturday, March 05, 2011
The Law Office of David E. Coombs - The Truth Behind Quantico Brig's Decision to Strip PFC Manning

PFC Manning inquired of the Brig operations officer what he needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum custody and POI. As even Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell has stated, PFC Manning has been nothing short of "exemplary" as a detainee. Additionally, Brig forensic psychiatrists have consistently maintained that there is no mental health justification for the POI Watch imposed on PFC Manning. In response to PFC Manning's question, he was told that there was nothing he could do to downgrade his detainee status and that the Brig simply considered him a risk of self-harm. PFC Manning then remarked that the POI restrictions were "absurd" and sarcastically stated that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.

Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used PFC's Manning's sarcastic quip as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon him under the guise of being concerned that PFC Manning was a suicide risk. PFC Manning was not, however, placed under the designation of Suicide Risk Watch. This is because Suicide Risk Watch would have required a Brig mental health provider's recommendation, which the Brig commander did not have.


this just keeps getting worse. i can't believe this is going on in this country. . .the brig is diabolical, stopping short of mental health accusations to keep that investigation out; if manning is so suicidal, perhaps he shouldn't be in prision but in a hospital setting.

Arthur Silber - Kingdom of Evil

A human being can be destroyed in a seemingly infinite number of ways, as history repeatedly demonstrates. Our capacity for cruelty is limitless. It would appear to defy gratification. . .

Glenn Greenwald - Bradley Manning's forced nudity to occur daily

Let's review Manning's detention over the last nine straight months: 23-hour/day solitary confinement; barred even from exercising in his cell; one hour total outside his cell per day where he's allowed to walk around in circles in a room alone while shackled, and is returned to his cell the minute he stops walking; forced to respond to guards' inquiries literally every 5 minutes, all day, everyday; and awakened at night each time he is curled up in the corner of his bed or otherwise outside the guards' full view. Is there anyone who doubts that these measures -- and especially this prolonged forced nudity -- are punitive and designed to further erode his mental health, physical health and will? As The Guardian reported last year, forced nudity is almost certainly a breach of the Geneva Conventions; the Conventions do not technically apply to Manning, as he is not a prisoner of war, but they certainly establish the minimal protections to which all detainees -- let alone citizens convicted of nothing -- are entitled.

The treatment of Manning is now so repulsive that it even lies beyond what at least some of the most devoted Obama admirers are willing to defend. . .

Ex-CIA station chief gets 5 years for sex abuse

We're supposed to believe that what Bradley Manning did is worse than this? A prosecutor who lacks judgement is not a protector of the rule of law. He's an unaccountable and arbitrary sadist.

Vincent Bugliosi is a throwback to the days when prosecutors a) had common sense b) prosecuted real crimes, rather than pseudo-crimes like "wire-fraud", "mail fraud" & "obstruction of justice".

Vincent Bugliosi - Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (1996)

p. 275

"Since nothing in the canons of ethics of the American Bar Association says a lawyer has to represent everyone who comes to his door, I choose not to defend anyone charged with a violent crime unless I believe he or she is innocent or unless there are substantially mitigating circumstances. . .In a nutshell, although I have never been a law-and-order fanatic - in fact, I'm suspicious of those who are - I do believe that those who have committed serious crimes should be severely punished. . ."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Bush officials' 'lack of recall' thwarted Tillman, Lynch probes

Mild reprimands in Tillman case won’t be in officers’ records

People lied in the aftermath of Pat Tillman's death. No one was ever charged with anything. And I don't think they should have been. Even though people were technically in violation of the UCMJ, I think the prosecuting authorities were right to use judgement, discretion, and common sense, and not pursue violations to the full extent of the law. I wish they would use similar judgement, discretion & common sense in Bradley Manning's case. No matter how many times the prosecuting authorities try to bully people who disagree with them with words like "treason" and "aiding the enemy", the simple truth is that what Bradley Manning did, is not 1/100 as serious a violation as what Charles Graner did, and Graner got 10 years. A just outcome to the Bradley Manning case would be some sort of reprimand or possibly a dishonourable discharge, and a thorough reform of the system of classifying information. Anything more is immorality, injustice, and abuse of power on the part of the prosecuting authorities.

The whole world is watching, and the whole world knows this stinks. Our eyes and ears are recently too full of other people in other lands claiming "treason" and "aiding the enemy", to be impressed by our people in power using the same big words in order to avoid accountability for using their power properly.

Glenn Greenwald - Bradley Manning could face death: For what?

. . .the Military Judges' Handbook specifically requires that if this theory is used -- that one has "aided the enemy" through "indirect" transmission via leaks to a newspaper -- then it must be proven that the "communication was intended to reach the enemy." None of the other ways of violating this provision contain an intent element; recognizing how extreme it is to prosecute someone for "aiding the enemy" who does nothing more than leak to a media outlet, this is the only means of violating Article 104 that imposes an intent requirement.

But does anyone actually believe that Manning's intent was to ensure receipt of this material by the Taliban, as opposed to exposing for the public what he believed to be serious American wrongdoing and to trigger reforms?. . .

It's at least intellectually coherent (though quite misguided) to see both Ellsberg and Manning as criminal demons who deserve to be locked away forever . . .But it's incoherent in the extreme to praise Ellsberg while condemning Manning (particularly since everything Manning is accused of leaking bears a much lower secrecy designation than the massive amounts of Top Secret material leaked by Ellsberg). . .

. . .Richard Nixon -- when justifying the attacks on Daniel Ellsberg -- denounced him for having provided ""aid and comfort to the enemy." . . .

The Law Office of David E. Coombs - PFC Manning Forced to Strip Naked

Last night, PFC Manning was inexplicably stripped of all clothing by the Quantico Brig. He remained in his cell, naked, for the next seven hours. At 5:00 a.m., the Brig sounded the wake-up call for the detainees. At this point, PFC Manning was forced to stand naked at the front of his cell.

The Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) arrived shortly after 5:00 a.m. When he arrived, PFC Manning was called to attention. The DBS walked through the facility to conduct his detainee count. Afterwards, PFC Manning was told to sit on his bed. About ten minutes later, a guard came to his cell to return his clothing.

This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated. PFC Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight. No other detainee at the Brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation.

From the comments, explaining where this is coming from:

"So. He is a traitor. He deserves no respect."

". . .It is pretty sickening that a Traitor to this country has so many fans. The Blood of some of our soldiers is on his hands. . ."

Not true, but a lie that some apparently believe.

another comment:

"This is very, very scary. If we have secrets that conceal wrongdoing, they need to come out. The US has become such a scary place to live. People are afraid to speak their piece. . ."

It's worth noting that Oliver North stole weapons from the army, sold them to the Ayatollah Khomeini, and used part of the proceeds to spruce up his vacation home. Not only did he somehow avoid the "Traitor" label, the prosecuting authorities spared him a dishonorable discharge, and he eventually got a show on Fox news. The venom directed at Manning is not a reasoned response to heinous criminal conduct, it's some people who have been whipped into a frenzy, brandishing the word "Traitor" with intoxicated fanaticism, and other more sober people, too scared of the accusations of "Treason" to say a moderating word against it.

Bradley Manning is not a traitor. He may not be a hero. What he certainly is is someone who leaked the lowest level of classified documents, documents which had zero protections or safeguards, with intent to expose abuses and the reality of war. Maybe he was unwise to do so. But a common criminal he is not, still less a traitor. He may deserve a reprimand, but the attempt to make him out to be a heinous criminal is misguided and immoral.