From yesterday’s executive order on interrogations:
From this day forward, unless the Attorney General with appropriate consultation provides further guidance, officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government may, in conducting interrogations, act in reliance upon Army Field Manual 2-22.3, but may not, in conducting interrogations, rely upon any interpretation of the law governing interrogation — including interpretations of Federal criminal laws, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, Army Field Manual 2-22.3, and its predecessor document, Army Field Manual 34-52 — issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009.
With a stroke of the pen (and a whole lotta commas), Obama knocks down the Federalist Society’s entire pseudo-scholarly edifice, and fixes the beginning and end of the 2,688-day Lawless Interregnum.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.
And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
On Tuesday, the world will be watching as America celebrates a rite that goes to the heart of our greatness as a nation. For the forty-third time, we will execute the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next.
That’s nice, I suppose.
But I was really, really hoping for war crimes trials.
Bush leaves us, finally, with a riddle:
The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.
Okay, I give up.
An impressionist’s view of the global equity markets in 2008 — eight index lines tumbling down, a cascade of loss.
See the waves of synchronized selling, the major U.S., European and Asian indices moving together in a shaky dance. Falling, recovering and finally capitulating, ending the year crashed on the floor, disoriented and spastic. There is no de-linking of global financial markets. There is universal suffering.
Which, as Tom Lehrer noted, has a bright side.
Polaroid film, compact discs, daily newspapers, Basel II, credit default swaps, MBAs, conservative intellectuals. Among all the things that will become obsolete or irrelevant in 2009, consider the humble New Year’s novelty glasses with the lenses framed in zeroes. Will they still be making stuff like that in China 991 years from now?