That was Mel Brooks's line in History of the World as his subjects bowed down to him, brought him anything he wanted, and allowed him to have his way with them. I'm afraid it's the same sort of thought that Barack Obama and his team of advisers might be having right about now.
Why do I say that? Because President Obama and his administration are defending and continuing the Bush administration's most sweeping assertions of executive power. In this case, it's the power of the executive to detain people indefinitely without charges and to prohibit them from challenging their detention in court. You may recall that "quaint" old custom known as habeas corpus, a right so crucial and fundamental that it's enshrined in the actual Constitution itself (as opposed to the Bill of Rights).
The Obama administration argued on Friday that persons held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their detention in U. S. courts:
"They've now embraced the Bush policy that you can create prisons outside the law," said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has represented several detainees.
Obama has pledged to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay within the year, but what of the facility at Bagram? It holds more people (600+) than Guantánamo, and it's used for precisely the same purpose: to hold people indefinitely without access to a lawyer, and to administer "enhanced" interrogations beyond the reach of American courts. And while many of those held at Bagram were captured in Afghanistan, the four men in the case discussed here were captured outside Afghanistan and brought to Bagram for detention.
And speaking of those "enhanced" interrogation techniques – another lawsuit in the Federal courts right now involves the Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen, who cooperated with the CIA by flying people kidnapped around the world to nations like Egypt and Jordan, where the detainees suffered horrible abuses. (I wrote about it earlier this week.) The Obama Justice Department is sticking to the Bush regime's argument that for the court even to hear the case would reveal vital state secrets and threaten the security of the nation. Note: the Obama/Bush argument is not that certain evidence must be withheld, or viewed in camera by the judges hearing the case; rather, it is that the case itself must be dismissed on the grounds of state secrets. They argue this with a straight face, even though the basic facts of the case have been widely reported in news media around the world.
Once again, we see those in power conflating the National Interest with their own Narrow Self-Interest. It would certainly embarrass two Presidential Administrations, the CIA, and the military to have a U. S. court declare that an American company is liable for assisting in the kidnapping and torturing of foreign nationals. But such an action is required if we are to be a nation of laws, rather than simply a nation of men.
It's distressing to see the Obama administration continue some of the most dangerous policies of the Bush regime. And it's depressing to watch the "progressives" give Obama a free ride.
I suppose it was only a matter of time before Apple argued that "jailbreaking" your iPhone is illegal (technically, a violation of everyone's favorite Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Because the process of liberating your iPhone from Apple's restrictions involves copying and reverse-engineering Apple's boot-loader software, the company argues that users are violating the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions.
Fortunately, we've got some crack techies on the case over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They've filed paperwork with the U. S. Copyright Office arguing that iPhone users should be granted an exemption from the DMCA because Apple otherwise prevents them from using software from some third parties on the iPhone:
the courts have long recognized that copying software while reverse engineering is a fair use when done for purposes of fostering interoperability with independently created software, a body of law that Apple conveniently fails to mention.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. I'm just glad that the good folks at EFF are around to fight battles like this one. If you can swing it, maybe you'd like to kick 'em a few bucks.
I was thinking about a recent recipe exchange we had over email. Several of our friends were asking after something that was yummy, and I thought, "wouldn't it be great if our friends had a recipe sharing place...where would I find something like that?"
Oh, right. There is a blog. So I give you the first. If you put one up just tag it with "cooking and recipes."
This recipe is one of the most amazing flavours to come out of my kitchen. Don't be fooled by the puree, it's very filling.
The recipe doesn't call for anything else, but I like to put plain yogurt in it before I serve.
Sweet Potato Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 - in. fresh ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
2 red chilies, sliced, plus extra to serve
3 limes, 1 juiced, 2 cut into wedges
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 large), cut into large chunks
about 2 cups canned coconut milk
2 c chicken stock (or veggie)
salt and pepper
To make spice paste, put onion, garilc, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, lime juice and half of the oil in a blender and puree until smooth (add a little water if necessary.)
Heat remaining oil in a saucepan. Add the spice paste and stir-fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, coconut milk and stock. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft.
Transfer to a blender, puree until smooth. season to taste, reheat if necessary. Top with chilies and serve with wedges of lime.
Seldom is the illustration of Orwell's words so vivid. Above, a screen shot from the New York Times's front page today. Notice that the 50 Americans who died were "musicians and law students, parents and pilots," whose "varied lives ended on a cold, foggy night," and that five of them are illustrated with flattering photographs; whereas the report from Pakistan tells us that "Missiles from pilotless drones killed up to 32 people, including Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters." Were their lives "varied?" Were "musicians, law students, parents, and pilots" among those killed? Was it cold and foggy in the mountains of South Waziristan?
Unfortunately I can't figure out how to embed this awesome in-flight time-lapse video, so you'll have to go watch it for yourself.
Edit: I seem to have the embed working, so I took the liberty of adding it in!