Friday, June 17, 2005

Glass Houses (another longer than expected post)

There's an old saying about glass house and stones I'm sure everyone is familiar with, everyone that is except the Democratic leadership in the States.

First they use their combined might to attack Tom Delay for his use of lobbyists money for trips and/or not properly reporting trips as required by House rules. All in all actually pretty small ethics violations (but violations none the less) but according to the Dems, the sign of a coming apocalypse. In their eagerness to get their accusations to the press, which the press were more than willing to run with even with little or no investigation of their own, the Democrats failed to realize that they too, including some of the leading accusers, were guilty of the exact same violations. In some cases their associations with the lobbyists in question were even more direct, such as Senator Harry Reid (D-NEV) whose aide, after being hired by Abramoff (one of the leading lobbyists in question) continued to raise funds for the Senator.

Then they attacked Tom Delay again, or more accurately his family, for being paid for working for his campaign. In this case even the number they quote, $500,000 is grossly inflated using very prejudicial math but besides that, it is not an uncommon practice for politicians to hire on family members to aide them in their campaigns (once again this includes Democrats). As pointed out by Captain Ed, when broken down into the years they were actually paid, even the amounts are not all that amazing considering the family members in question are generally professional campaign strategists working for well recognized firms.

Now the latest, and most egregious act of stone throwing comes from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (Michell Malkin has some good links to the media's take on the Durbin comments). In comments that can leave no doubt about his real view of the US Military he compared troops and the conditions at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalin era Gulags and Cambodian genocidal leader Pol Pot. Despite the fact that the methods used by the US interrogators don't even remotely resemble those used by those other regimes (unless you equate bad pop music and puppet shows to firing squads) and the fact that as of today the official number of deaths at Gitmo is zero he refuses to apologize for his comparison.

In Senator Durbin's case his 'glass house' was built by fellow Democrat and Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan and involves his handling of the Cook County Jail right in the heart of the Senators own district. John in Caroline has a nice write up about the documented cases of abuse at the jail during Sheahan's tenure there. These include real cases of abuse such as rapes and beating by guards as opposed to the Gitmo accounts of alternating the air conditioner settings to make it either uncomfortably hot or cold. Again, unlike the Gitmo abuse allegations which have been painstakingly reviewed, many of the cases at Cook County were just dismissed outright by the Sheriff. And don't forget that the 'mistreatment' of the terrorists being held at Gitmo is done for the purposes of interrogation. These are people who were caught acting on behalf of Al Qaeda and in many cases are believed to have further knowledge of Al Qaeda support systems and activities. In the case of the Cook County Jail, these are prisoners who are serving their time and have no further information to provide anyone; their 'mistreatment' is done for either payback or to set an example or possibly in extreme cases just for some guards amusement.

Now if you were a prisoner with a choice of where to spend your time which would you choose, a US Military Detention Center where the guards are taught how to properly respect your customs and if they accidental offend you can be reprimanded (Google the Koran peeing incident) or a jail where the guards that should be there to protect you from the other inmates are as likely as not to be the ones who attack and beat you.

I'd like to state this outright, neither of these situations even begin to rise to the level of the previously mentioned regimes. In the case of Gitmo, the details that have been released show interrogation methods that rely heavily on sleep deprivation and embarrassment to encourage prisoners to talk, not true cases of physical abuse and torture. Cook County Jail, on the other hand, while showing instances of real violence against prisoners, is still on such a small scale as to not be considered the normal operating procedure there. Make no mistake, in a Nazi, Stalin or Pol Pot camp, the torture was real and was not isolated to convicted criminals and captured enemy combatants. Many of the people tortured or killed there were men, women and children who were just unlucky enough to belong to groups or races that the leaders of those regimes determined were either easy scapegoats or not worthy of living.

If you pay any attention to Canadian politics you will have seen this all before, although in their defense, the Liberal party tends to keep their unfounded accusations, and in most cases utter fabrications, to just personal attacks on Conservatives MPs and the Conservative Party as a whole. They rarely directly attack the reputations of our Canadian Armed Forces; most likely due to the fact they can't afford to have anyone looking too closely at the complete and utter ruin they have allowed our military to fall to under their watch.

Anyways, back to my original point. It's time for the Democrats to stop being the party of insults to again become a party of ideas (even if I personally don't agree with those ideas). Not that I'm really hoping they would really ever gain control of any branch of the US government again, but the best decisions are made through well organized debate and right now there is little of that happening in Washington (or Ottawa for that matter). It's time for a little civility in politics.

A special hat tip to Captain's Quarters for all the good links.

(And while not directly involved with the above mentioned ethics violations, this Captain's Quarters post and this CBS News article are interesting side notes that help highlight what can come happen when journalists actually do their jobs instead of just repeating partisan personal attacks.


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