Friday, September 29, 2006

Republicans are pederasts

Well, at least this guy is. But I figure if Bush can tar all Democrats with the "cut and run" sobriquet in spite of the varieties of perspectives within the party, then I can go ahead and say that the Republicans are the party of closeted homosexuals, pedophiles, and mule fuckers. All's fair, eh?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here's the GOP Strategy on Torture and Detention

Here's what just happened with the habeus corpus and torture bills that just went through Congress. The Democrats had an opportunity (or at least a possible opportunity) to filibuster these bills and prevent their passage before Congress recessed to go back their states and districts to campaign. Their failure to do so has outraged a number of different commentators, including myself. And I'm sure this is going to cost the Democrats votes.

What it comes down to is that Karl Rove or whoever came up with this is a clever bastard. They put the Democrats in a lose-lose situation. The Democrats' choice came down to this:

  • Don't filibuster and/or throw obstacles in the way of these legal debacles. Make a pro forma show of resistance by voting against it. This will lose you votes on the left
  • Filibuster and lose votes in the center and even on the right from those who are pissed about the myriad Republican failings in many areas (economy, Iraq, Katrina, general incompetence, etc.) but would still rally back to the GOP if scared with the "weak on terror" shibboleth.
Given that the final Senate vote on the measure was 65-34 on the detainee bill (and the vote in the House equally lopsided), it's quite likely that even attempting a filibuster was a quixotic idea, meaning that votes lost by playing into that hand would have even been in vain. But the larger strategic picture is that, of the many Congressional races that are in play in the '06 election season, many of them are in relatively "red" areas—think Montana, Tennessee, Colorado, Florida. Losing swing votes in those areas is probably more threatening to the Democrats' chances of taking one or both houses of Congress in this election than are losing left-of-center votes in California or Massachusetts.

I'm not saying I could have been Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi and stomached not doing everything I could have to stop these betrayals of American principles and morals. Those of us who believe we just had a Reichstag fire moment—with the detainee and torture bills our very own Enabling Act—find it impossible to view such a batch of horribly cynical and damaging provisions through a strictly tactical lens. The unfortunate problem is that the current administration has no such moral foibles. The only defense I can offer the Democratic leadership is that it's hard to wrestle pigs without getting muddy.

Now, I'm not at all confident that Democratic control of Congress will mean that they'll do what's required to stop these measures. After all, even if they take both houses, Bush is still the President and the Democrats will hardly have a veto-proof minority. But, for those of us who oppose the administration, these measures that sell out the very meaning of American tradition, and our on-rushing dictatorship, let's be clear that the blame rests squarely on the GOP. So, on Election Day, drag your heavy heart out of the house and vote Democratic anyways, if not for the Democrats, then against the Republicans.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More on the torture thing

This post by Jack M. Balkin (is that his real name?) says pretty much the same thing I said, but with some special sauce on top. I like special sauce, especially the spread at In-N-Out Burger, so this is highly recommended. I found that post in a post on Glenn Greenwald's blog, which I just started following and find really interesting, although I don't agree with him all the time.

I also got a nice e-mail from Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report. Apparently, he put a link to my original post in the Daou Report on, which is quite nice. My main concern in this instance isn't really driving traffic here, but getting people to make the calls to the so-called leadership of the Democratic Party to try to get them to make a stand on this issue. But however that works is OK with me!

I'm going to write up my experiences on the phones later on...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Couldn't They Do It To Make Me Proud?

Or at least not so damned ashamed to be American? Apparently, Democrats are not going to block the torture and spying bills currently in Congress:
“We’re going to do what we can to limit the amount of daylight between us and them on national security issues in order to neutralize this as a political issue,” a senior Democratic aide said.
Why the hell don't the Democrats make it a political issue? Why don't we scream from the highest rooftops, Republicans support torture? I understand not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, tactics and all that, but this is allowing torture to be legalized.

The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves. Who do we call? Who do we get to change this wrong-headed notion that allowing torture to be legalized is not an acceptable strategy? If the Democrats' slogan is A New Direction For America, couldn't that new direction include not legalizing torture?!

I strongly urge everyone to contact House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,2 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Howard Dean at the Democratic National Committee, and Rahm Emanuel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.1 Also, be sure to contact your own representative and senators!! Tell all of them that this is unacceptable.3 They are our last hope to prevent this cynical and horribly un-American legislation from becoming law.

If Democrats don't stand for no torture and no ex post facto legalization of the abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, the CIA black prison, and extraordinary renditions, then what the hell do they stand for?

Please contact these "leaders" of the Democratic Party and let them know that not opposing these bills is unacceptable. I also plan to contact each of these "leaders" by phone today to press them to action. I urge, beg, plead with you to do the same. Let's flood their offices with protests! Here's the letter that I'm sending to these people, edited for each person of course (this is for Rahm Emanuel; his contact form has an "issue" drop-down list that doesn't include "Torture" as an issue). You're more than welcome to grab this, add your own thoughts to it, and send it on.
Really the issue is TORTURE, not Iraq. But I have noticed that neither you, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, nor Nancy Pelosi has TORTURE listed as an issue on your contact forms.

I am writing in regards to the story in ( regarding the Democrats' decision to not block the torture and spying legislation. I am absolutely OUTRAGED by this decision. As a loyal Democrat, I have defended instances where the party did not let the perfect be the enemy of the good and made tactical decisions to not press on particular issues with the understanding that this would enable the party to eventually implement more of our agenda.

But if we do not stand against TORTURE, what do we stand against? If we do not stand against the absolute derogation of Americans' 4th Amendment rights, what do we stand against? If the Democrats do not stand up against these bills and stop them in the short amount of time left, then the Democratic Party stands for NOTHING. If this party sells its soul in the cravenly cowardly way on this, the most important moral, ethical, and legal issue in front of Congress, then I have no part in this party. I will cancel the donations I was preparing to make in the run-up to the election. I will cancel my partipication in GOTV efforts (how will answer someone who asks me why they should vote for the Democrats when the party didn't even have enough of a backbone to oppose TORTURE?). I will stay home from the polls this election day. Not taking action on this issue is simply unacceptable, immoral, and despicable.
Please let me know about your contacts and what responses you get in the comments here! Thanks!

Update 1: Rahm Emanuel's site doesn't accept e-mails from people outside his district, so you have to go to the contact page of the DCCC. Note that there are no such restrictions on the phone for his D.C. and district office phones (202-225-4061 and 773-267-5926, respectively).

Update 2: Nancy Pelosi's site has the sam restriction as Emanuel's. Her's refers you to the Minority Leader's site, but there's no contact information there. So you can send her e-mail with the express disclaimer that her site says they'll ignore e-mail that doesn't have proof that you're a constituent (for those in S.F., this isn't an issue of course). That means resorting to phones then! Oh, well, not a problem. S.F. is (415) 556-4862 and D.C. is (202) 225-4965. Have at 'em.

Update 3: OK, this is the last update like this. All of the Congresscritters have restrictions on their e-mail forms, so nuts to that. Just call.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Time to start up a riot, y'all!

Free Willie!!! WTF is wrong with people? Don't the cops in Lafayette, LA, have something, anything, more important to do than hassling Willie over weed?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Being President means never having to say you're sorry...

I've talked about John Yoo before, but the guy is seriously the gift that keeps on giving. Although that puts a bit more positive spin on the guy than I really care to, but my God the guy won't shut up and everything that spews out of his yap pretty much convinces me that 1) this guy is simply f---ing crazy and 2) that he is... I dunno, stupid's not the right word, because he's clearly an intelligent guy in the sense of grey matter horsepower, and obtuse is sort of in the neighborhood but doesn't seem to capture the willful and malevolent disregard of the dangers of unlimited executive power.

In short, in How the Presidency Regained Its Balance is a stunning tour de force of double-talk and scare tactics in the service of the argument of President as dictator. Yoo conflates the conjectured powers of a war-time President with the antediluvian potentate that supposedly existed before the stranglehold of post-Watergate reforms.
[T]he president... has long intended to make reinvigorating the presidency a priority... But the inescapable fact is that war shifts power to the branch most responsible for its waging: the executive...
Yoo basically blows his cover here: oh, we were planning on this anyways; the war just came along and gave us an initial justification. Because note well that the rationale appeals to the President's war efforts, but that the overall motive is a peace-time one. The root of this problem lies in the complacency of a torpid and secure body politic:
The changes of the 1970’s occurred largely because we had no serious national security threats to United States soil, but plenty of paranoia in the wake of Richard Nixon’s use of national security agencies to spy on political opponents.
Let's think about that: no serious national security threats. Not like now, where someone might be able to kill 3,000 people! Back then, all you had was the Soviet Union, which we were assured repeatedly by the conservative ancestors of today's was the Evil Empire with thousands of nuclear-armed ICBMs pointed at us. Not to mention burgeoning Red insurgencies in this hemisphere, Castro still peeking through the keyhole, and so on.

But that dang ol' paranoia just got the best of us. Let's not mention the adage that says, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you," which was certainly true back then. No less than Barry Goldwater, no weak quisling in search of a Prime Minister instead of a (real-man) President, believed that Nixon's actions were beyond the bounds of legality and propriety. So let's be clear: there was real cause to place limits on the office of the President. Harkening back to the halcyon days of LBJ and Nixon is hardly likely to rally a groundswell of support for the powers Yoo wants to invest in the President.
These statutes have produced little but dysfunction...
Yeah, and allowing open-ended "interpretation" of Congressional statutes through the use of signing statements, where interpretation has ventured so far afield as to result in the statute actually being implemented in almost precisely the opposite manner intended by Congress, that has resulted in smooth functioning and coherency.

Later, I'll have a bit more to say on two topics related to this:
  • Proponents of unitary executive always try to date the supposed neutering of the Presidency back to the post-Watergate reforms. In fact, this is bollocks: the unitary executive concept of the President is strictly modern, expressly defined out of the picture in the U.S. Constitution, and is a profoundly un-American and ahistorical concept.
  • The appeals to the post-Watergate reforms really create a coded message that refers back to the cultural divide of the '60s and '70s, with support for the unitary executive equating to support for God, country, and all of the other nationalist symbols of the pro-war anti-left conservative movement.
I think both of these are very important to understand and to clarify in this debate. Allowing these concepts to go unquestioned allows them to filter in as the accepted basis for considering the question: if we're just talking about rolling back a few decades in terms of Presidential power, then it's not so bad, right? And the hippies made a mess of things, so we don't want to be on their side!

In fact, if the concept of the unitary executive becomes established, we've in effect become a-Constitutional, entering territory that was voided by George Washington when he declined to become king. The checks of laws and courts on the desires and programs of the executive branch are not just inconvenient restrictions placed to test the mettle of our President. Instead, they're part and parcel of our system, these limits on absolute power part of the very woof and weave of our nation's fabric. The actions, justifications, and rationalizations of bomb throwers like John Yoo threatens to tear and sunder this fabric, with consequences that will destroy everything that it truly means to be American.

Let me be direct: John Yoo is a horrible detestable person. He is no way qualified to teach law. His book is entitled, War By Other Means. I agree that he's found a way to conduct civil war and insurrection against the U.S. Constitution by means other than war. He has provided a rationalization for a horrible cabal of incompetent, evil men to begin the project of destroying our democracy. For all of the crimes and moral depravity he has caused and aided and abetted, John Yoo should be deeply ashamed of himself.

Monday, September 11, 2006

He looks a little uncomfortable

A couple of my friends think that Bush looks a little unnatural here, sort of like he had to go out of his way to step on the flag like that. I'm guessing that he's still getting comfortable with the whole oppressive dictator thing, but if that was Cheney, he'd look just fine, especially if you also wedged a puppy or baby or kittens under his foot also.

This also speaks to something that just bugs the crap out of me. I was in the military and was in the Drum and Bugle Corps in boot camp and tech school, had friends in the Honor Guard, did plenty of ceremonies and all that. I have a pretty decent amount of respect for the flag and would never burn it or desecrate and so on. I'm not in favor of a flag-burning amendment, because that sort of expression is exactly what the flag is supposed to stand for. So why are the assholes who are supposedly so in love with the God-damned flag always so completely and totally violating the protocol that defines what it means to respect the flag?
  • You can't wear the flag.
  • You can't just slap it anywhere on your car.
  • When it gets tattered or abused, you can't just keep driving around with the pathetic last few threads streaming from your radio antenna, there are rules
  • And you sure the fuck can't step on it!
Seriously, how did this asshat ever become President? Is it really such an amazing application of the Peter Principle? I don't think so, because let's keep in mind that this idiot failed at just about everything he attemped prior to becoming President also (college, military career, Arbusto, etc.) until someone pulled him in to be the primo glad hander in Texas politics (the Texas Rangers ballpark, Texas governor).