"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, May 26, 2006

Merry, But Quite Contrary

A conclusion is boring its way inexorably into my consciousness: namely, the people in Washington whom I write about think in lines that run opposite to mine. Perhaps I have become a true contrarian. (My definition of 'contrarian': a farmer who marries the traveling salesman's daughter.)

For example, I thought nothing of the fact that the FBI executed a search warrant in the Capitol building. That did not "chill me" in the least. There was a suspicion, a judge issued a warrant, everything was aboveboard.

But what chills the marrow in my bones is President Bush issuing an "order" to seal the evidence for 45 days. This was the calming move designed to defuse a constitutional crisis? An executive gives an order to a policing body not to examine the evidence that it has lawfully collected in an active investigation. Now, that is scary. Have you ever seen a mayor instruct a police commissioner in this manner? Or a governor instruct a state's attorney? Very unpleasantly autocratic in my book.

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As I have been remiss lately in linking my columns, here are two weeks worth.

1) Last Friday, at Spectator, my proposal to allow Mexico a role in jointly policing the border.
2) This Wednesday, at Spectator, my analysis of the difference between our inability to fight against evil purposes and our ability to fight against evil tactics.
3) Last Wednesday, at Human Events, my observation that the immigration situation yielded some good news for conservatives, in that they were able to push back and affect the orientation of the debate.
4) Yesterday, at Human Events, my comedy-laden attack on the habit of debating and voting on long bills that nobody has read but a few scheming aides.

13 comments:

James Elliott said...

Um, Jay, I hate to be the one to do this, but this piece is predicated on a story that appears to be not true.

Tahieri, the Iranian dissident journalist who started first "broke" the "story" has begun backpedaling quite swiftly. Aaron Breitbart of the Simon Weisenthal Center, who so recently "confirmed" the story, is also doing some linguistic gymnastics of late in order to avoid his pants catching on fire.

Canada's National Post admits that the story was false.

However, please accept this and this as examples of the kind of state-sponsored crap going on in Iran. The image associated with the second story is here.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Thanks, James. If you look at the Letters section of the Spectator, people have called attention to this question.

In fact, that's why I described my piece in the post by saying that it was an analysis of the dichotomy between purposes and tactics. That is an enduring insight of my article, transcending any one particular event.

And thanks for those other links. Valuable info.

Tlaloc said...

I can't quite get the hubbub about the FBI search either. I mean here they actually have a warrant. No one has suggested the warrant was improper. They have an overwhelming amount of evidence against Jefferson. What exactly is the problem?

This story does give lie to the idea however that the left was opposed to any wiretapping of conversations. Every leftwing blog I've read has clearly said they don't see any problem with the FBI acting on a legitimately court approved warrant.

I guess it really was WARRANTLESS wiretapping that was the problem all along.

Taylor Marsh said...

James Elliott is correct.

With all due respect, Mr. Homnick, this paragraph alone puts you on the side of the propagandists.

His regime signed its death warrant this week. Not by developing nuclear weapons, which is a real fear. Nor by dispatching Hezbollah terrorists to badger the civilized world, also a legitimate threat. But by passing a breathtakingly imbecilic law to require Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians in Iran to wear colored badges on their clothing. Once the law is signed and enforced, Iran will cross over into a zone of pariahdom that will leave it morally defenseless against whatever sanction or force we throw its way.

Your explanation that it was some "analysis of the dichotomy" blah-blah-blah is utter bunk. You passed the information on as if it were about to come true without questioning it.

I'm the one who broke a big part of this story, so I know what you've written is false. I've got the facts, including a fax that puts the Canadian John Turley-Ewert asking for the Simon Wiesenthal Center's help in revving up support for the story. That's exactly what they did. Finally, the United Nations has made a statement as well. This whole story has become an embarrassment to the neocons who pushed it.

I've reported the whole sorry tale from the start, if anyone is interested.

Good for James for busting you.

Jay D. Homnick said...

I wrote it in good faith based upon the news sources extant at the time.

If the story is not true, then the specific criticism of the Iranian government is automatically canceled.

I never claimed to have special information on the subject; if it is true or not will be determined by reporters in the field, as in any other story. If, as you suggest, it is now clear that it was false, I obviously am not continuing to make any accusation.

What I said to James, and quite correctly, is that my opinion piece has value to a reader quite apart from the specific issue of Iran. It offers an insight into areas of consensus within global society and areas of dispute.

James Elliott said...

While I love to see the words "James Elliot is correct" - especially here at the Reform Club - I certainly didn't want to start a "let's play whack-a-mole with Jay's column" thing. I just wanted to point out what he may or may not have known about the "triggering event."

And ditto with Tlaloc's point. I don't see anything in the "speech and debate" clause that prevents the FBI from conducting a legitimate search in a criminal investigation, so long as they have a warrant (which they did).

Jay D. Homnick said...

Thanks, James, I think we cleared it up, and in a civilized manner, without requiring 43 comments.

And thanks, too, for agreeing with my point that there is nothing wrong with searching a Congressional office with a warrant.

Surprisingly, no one seems to have picked up on my other point: that I don't like the idea of an executive "freezing evidence" in any sort of investigation.

tbmbuzz said...

This whole story has become an embarrassment to the neocons who pushed it.

Hardly. This statement presupposes that neocons [insert spooky Stephen King music here] can be embarrassed by what Far Leftists think of them. Reasonable people who understand the nature of tyranny do not consider Amir Taheri "outted" as a dissident and freedom fighter because he may have gotten one story wrong about one of the more malevolent, anti-democratic regimes existing today. The true cause for embarrassment here is the instantaneous and instinctive leap to the defense of yet another penny ante dictator by a dictator-coddling leftist.

tbmbuzz said...

Surprisingly, no one seems to have picked up on my other point: that I don't like the idea of an executive "freezing evidence" in any sort of investigation.

The powerful always protect the powerful, particularly inside the Beltway. What is so surprising?

Tlaloc said...

"Hardly. This statement presupposes that neocons [insert spooky Stephen King music here] can be embarrassed by what Far Leftists think of them."

I'd think they'd be embarrassed by being spectacularly wrong. But they weren't ashamed of being so wrong the last hundred times so what's one more, right?

Tlaloc said...

"The true cause for embarrassment here is the instantaneous and instinctive leap to the defense of yet another penny ante dictator by a dictator-coddling leftist."

Damn that left for not getting outraged at a made up story! Damn damn them! How horrible it is to want to assign blame based on facts rather than political expediency? What gall. Why they seem to love truth more than America the filthy traitors. They even applaud when our newspapers report facts about our own government's hideously illegal activities! It's just not right I tell you.

I really should look into that GOP speech writing gig.

James Elliott said...

I'm writing a parody of the Right Wing Punditry these days. I've seriously considered trawling the comments section of this site and just using Buzz's comments. They're far funnier than any parody could be. One would almost think he was a performance artist caught in a vicious web of his own performance but for the utter seriousness of his tone. But then, it's their very earnestness - combined with their utter ridiculousness - that makes them so funny.

Taylor Marsh said...

Hey, James. Get a load of this one. Nothing like inviting liars into the lions den.