Monday, January 12, 2009

114 to 1: a follow-up, and a look ahead

Back on my Playskool blog, I had a few choice words to say about Blagojevich's corruption charges - most clustering around the idea that it is monstrous to withhold money from sick children because some guy won't give you a kick-back.  Black-and-white, clear-as-day, no-two-ways-about-it monstrous.  I still feel that way, even after cooling off for a bit.  I don't care how "typical" or "normal" or "common" this type of behavior may be - to me, that kind of "just politics" attitude just goes to show how many monsters there are in the world.

To paraphrase a professor of mine, "When the world sucks, morality is hard.  Boo-hoo."  And when being good is hard, being bad is understandable - but still blameworthy.  The Illinois House seemed to recognize this on Friday when they voted 114 to 1 to impeach Rod Blagojevich.  The end is a ways off yet, so I'm not busting out any champagne.  We'll see where this goes.

Citizen Roland Burris is now Senator Designate Roland Burris, and Rachael Maddow asks whether his successful appointment means that "Governor F-Bomb" has won.  I don't think so:  he wins if he walks, he loses if he's convicted.  At least, I'm pretty sure that's how our justice game works.  At worst, appointing Burris could be a shrewd move calculated to win an acquittal; at best, it was a graceful step down to prevent a costly special election.  I honestly doubt that either of those is the case, though; actually, I may even be wrong about the worst/best case analysis, as this is complicated stuff.  I'm still torn, though - elections cost money, but I think it's worth it, but the rest of the state may disagree, but what about this Burris guy?  What's a satisficer to do?

At any rate, I am unambiguously happy that we are discussing how best to move forward, while subjecting the guy who left us with this mess to due process.  Y'know, kind of like how President-Elect Obama ought to be treating Bush in a week.  Obama said in an interview that:
"...I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders..."
False dichotomy, guy. Two counts.  First, we can do right going forward while seeing to it that those who did wrong in the past pay for their crimes.  I believe that this is somewhat central to our justice system.  Second, to investigate even the "little guys" at the CIA for wrongdoing is not necessarily to invite paranoia, and in fact should do the opposite - we need to illustrate that standing up against wrongdoing such as this will not be punished and that said wrongdoing shall not be ignored.  Show me a guy who engaged in torture with a clear conscience, and I'll show you a guy who should not be in the CIA - and if someone is engaging in torture under orders instead of reporting the guy responsible, that person should be looking over their shoulder, because they did something wrong.  I don't see what's so hard to understand about this.

I'm thinking of doing a 101 Interesting Things entry on Chinese prisons during the Korean war.  Case studies on that kind of thing ought to be required reading for anyone who still buys into the medieval notion of torture.  At any rate, I have to give Obama his due out:  it may be that he's playing it close to the vest, on the off-chance that Bush will go for even more last-minute shenanigans and pardon himself and everyone he knows and everyone they know for everything they ever did.  But more likely is that this is a cynical ploy to win support from the GOP.

Y'know, there's a difference between reaching across party lines and making concessions to evil, except in one case:  when there actually is a party of evil.  Whether that distinction applies in this case is, sadly, up to the Reds.  I guess we'll see how things go.

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