The Polite Liberal

A rant-free discussion of liberal philosophy and policies.


The Polite Liberal is the pseudonym of a "nontraditional" graduate student in mathematics (for nonacademics, "nontraditional," is a polite way of saying, "older than 25.") The Polite Liberal is an attempt to spur real policy debate, instead of partisan insults and conspiracy theories. Conservatives (and liberals, of course!) are welcome.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Republicans on Crime and National Security

Like clockwork, in every election the Republicans talk incessantly about how tough they are on crime. They bleat on about how only they can be trusted on National Security.

Once they have total power, what do we see? A Republican President commuting the sentence of a felon who helped cover up a crime that damaged our national security, and compromised our intelligence assets on Iran's nuclear program, for nothing more than partisan advantage.

It's clear now who can be trusted on crime, and on national security. It certainly isn't conservatives.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"If we leave, there will be chaos"

The final Republican argument on the war seems to be that if Democrats finally manage to force a withdrawal, total chaos will ensue.

This is almost certainly true.

The problem is that it's akin to saying throwing a dozen eggs at someone and then saying that if they don't stand still and catch them all, there'll be a hell of a mess.

That's both true and irrelevant, and the correct move is to duck, not flail around trying to catch eggs.

The chaos is inevitable at this point. It was probably inevitable from the moment Bush made the decision to invade Iraq with a postwar plan that might as well have been drawn in crayon on a diner's kids menu. It was certainly inevitable when Bush treated the postwar period as a patronage opportunity for well-connected Republicans.

Trying to ensure peace and stability is honorable, but it's too late for that. Using our soldiers' lives to try to push the inevitable collapse onto some other President's watch is contemptible.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bad Policies of Bush, Part I

It's become somewhat difficult to discuss the Bush presidency. So many Bush policies have been wrongheadedly conceived, immoral, or simply disastrous in their effects that a lot of liberals tend to lapse into incoherent shrieking when the subject comes up. To try to organize my own thoughts, I thought I'd try to make an item by item list here over the next several days.

Any list like this has to start with our policy towards the military detainees. This is such a huge cluster of bad policies that it's hard to know where to begin:

(1) The US ought not use torture. It's barbaric, ineffective, and immediately demolishes any attempt to press other countries to stop abusing human rights. Frankly, I find it depressing and humiliating that this point even needs to be argued. Civilized countries ought not use torture! That's what makes them civilized countries!

Frankly, the decision to torture the detainees is so outrageous that it's impossible to come up with a reasonable argument for it.

(2) The US ought not detain people except as POWs, or as criminal defendants. Anyone using the phrase "illegal combatant" to claim that the government can hold people without charge or Geneva convention rights is playing legal Calvinball. Anyone who defends the practice and simultaneously claims to be for the "rule of law" is a liar or a fool.

(3) The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.--US Constitution, Article I, Section 9.

We have not been invaded. There is no rebellion. There is no cause to suspend the writ. "It has only been suspended for really bad people" is no defense--for one thing, without the writ of habeas corpus, how do you know that is true?

(4) Extraordinary rendition, obviously, is itself beyond the pale. See (1).

Why do these policies get any support at all from citizens of a previously-civilized, first-world nation? I can only guess. From the defenses I've seen attempted, it appears to stem from basic cowardice. "As long as I be kept safe," the argument seems to go, "what matter if a few really bad people suffer at the hands of the government?"

How do we know that these people are as bad as claimed? Because, say our government-distrusting conservatives, the government never makes mistakes about such things.

Monday, October 02, 2006

For me, torture trumps sex

As I post this, the entire nation is obsessed with Mark Foley and his "page problems."

I'll stand aside. When we suspend habeas corpus and allow torture at the discretion of the President, I have trouble getting excited over sex scandals.
If this leads to the end of Republican control of the Congress, I'll be overjoyed. Other than that, though, I'll stick to the Constitution.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A foray into theology

I'm not a religious man myself, but I'm an interested observer. The Bible contains some nuggets of genuine wisdom, like this one:

Romans 12:19-21

19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

It's both astonishing and depressing to see the lengths to which self-proclaimed Christians will go to in their attempt to avoid that passage. The Web is littered with phantasmagorical ticking bombs built so that Christians may pretend that their entirely un-Christian desire for vengance is instead a noble attempt to save lives.

Everyone, stop it. You're only barely kidding yourselves. Do you really think that you're deceiving God?

Friday, September 29, 2006

From then to now

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

--Declaration of Independence

Thursday, September 28, 2006

In memoriam

39. Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.

1215-2006. Requiescat in Pacem.