Thursday, June 29, 2006

An intriguing possibility

As I don't already have enough to do at work, I was reading Captain Ed's take on today's Supreme Court ruling in the Hamdan case. In short the Justices ruled 5-3 (Roberts recused himself) that military tribunals for terrorists would be illegal under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

Here's Cap'n Ed:
I haven't read the decision, but the reliance on the Geneva Convention seems strange. The convention binds nations when dealing with other signatories, not with those who have not agreed to reciprocity. The terrorists we have captured do not wear uniforms to distinguish themselves from civilians; in fact, they take great pains to hide themselves among civilians, deliberately target civilians, and use civilians as human shields. Applying Geneva Convention protections to these terrorists undermines the primary reason for these conventions: protection of civilians. They now will pay no penalty for their disregard for the rules of war, thanks to SCOTUS.

Ed concludes: "Congress needs to correct this issue immedately. The mischief that this enables will not only hamstring this war on terror, but any future war we may be forced to wage."

What would make for both high drama, and for great courage would be for the US governement to proceed with tribunals anyway. If we read the Geneva Convention thoroughly, then we have to conclude that there is no allowance for non-signatories who prey on civilians to be accorded protections under the Convention. Therefore, one must logically conclude, that in spite of the Court's decision, military tribunals are the only real option.

If Bush ordered military tribunals, the Left would howl and call for impeachment, but the Right and most moderates who favor a vigorous prosecution of the global war on terror (or radical Islam as were over Epinionated types like to say) would probably see the President as being correct with his interpretation. Would the House impeach? Not likely.

This could turn into a big, big winner for the Republicans, even though the decision went against them.

Ellison to Harvard: Drop Dead

News spread quickly of Larry Ellison's decision to not give Harvard a $115 million gift. If Mr. Ellison is interested, he could really put that money to good use. New college graduates emerge from the hallowed halls of academia every year with enormous loan burdens. What would it mean to those folks, or their parents to have a ten-thousand dollar gift to pay some of those loans. Mr. Ellison's un-pledged gift to Harvard would be $10,000 worth of help for 11,500 people. Now that might not seem like many people, but that's not the point.

The point is, small donations that mean more to individuals are unnoticed compared to massive donations, to behemoth institutions. Harvard's endowment is something like $26 billion (that's with a b). It's not chump change, but the profs at Harvard aint gonna go hungry because Mr. Ellison changed his mind.

But a ten-thousand dollar gift either to get one's education started, or to reward a student who graduates with a 3.0 GPA or who has made an appearance on the dean's list each and every semester, would reward excellence, encourage more diligent work and mean something to the recipient. In addition, the person who has earned this gift, no matter how comfortably well off they are as an individual would feel a tremendous pinch if the gift were revoked. Unlike Harvard.

This speaks to the liberal ethos. Rather than taking the time to individually help someone through personal efforts that actually reach people, liberals prefer that our money be taxed, given to the government so that they can divvy the money up best. We both want the same thing, for people can get the help that they need when they need it. But what means more to an individual, a personal gift that comes from a caring individual, or a government subsidy? And which of these is going to encourage a person to use the assistance to make sure they never need it again? Or work hard enough so that they can, inspired by the generosity shown to them, pass along that generosity to someone else? Isn't that really what community is about?