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September 29, 2006

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Ok, for 35+ days I will try very hard on this blog not to be pessimistic or negative, unconstructive, critical, apocalyptic or extreme. I will try to interpret external events as opportunities. I may comment less as I try to come up with stuff you would consider useful, and if I can't be helpful I will remain silent. If some partial victory should happen, I won't spoil the party for six months. Consider this a promise.

I will also look around my area to see if I can find a campaign that is meaningful and could use help.

After six months I will reassess my positions, but perhaps not publicly, and perhaps not here.

For one thing, does anyone here actually believe that if President Bush asked Democratic leaders to move this bill through, they would agree?

The Democratic leaders? No. If they went to the individual Democrats? In all honesty, yes. And given how many Democrats finked out on this -- twelve, bloody twelve -- that's a de facto Republican majority for the foreseeable future.

Probably the only precedent is Joe McCarthy, but -- amazing as it is to find myself writing this -- he did so much less damage.

I mentioned this to my dad on the phone tonight that I find it ironic that, for all that McCarthy made individuals' lives hell, he did almost no systemic damage to the country. [He tried, of course, but failed.] You'd have to go back to the Compromise of 1876, IMO, to find acts of Congressional malfeasance so systemically damaging as this one bill, let alone the full panoply of the Bush Administration's abuses.

In response to some of the feelings of helplessness expressed lately, and in light of the comments and the MB link provided by bob mcmanus (“The NYT…” (9:58). Thanks!) and Katherine’s mention of the white kids recruited for Freedom Summer, I thought I’d offer the suggestions below. I know these ideas may sound like the ramblings of a 15-year old (just ribbing you, Gary – I may try to get some mileage out of that one), but I’m just spitballing, as they say. The ideas may be small, but sometimes that counts too. For example, a good buddy of mine was telling me the other day about how he made a point in class to impress upon his students the distinctions between “Muslim,” “Arab,” “Middle Eastern,” etc. One of his students, a lightly-practicing Muslim, came up to thank him after class, mentioning that few others seemed particularly interested in those distinctions. She said the climate has definitely changed for her over the past five years, and now she gets a lot of stares and whispers. Like the “Field Trip to a Mosque” suggestion earlier, the following are meant mainly for non-Muslims.

1.If you live near a university, attend a multicultural event (go to their website and take a look at the campus calendar). If you are a student, join a student group that is different from your religion/culture/ethnicity. Now I can’t vouch for any them, but I’m betting that in this atmosphere of fear and suspicion they would love to have you. You should at least be welcome to attend their events. (Day of the Dead is my favorite. Texans, try Nuevo Laredo and ask the folks in the square about their ancestors.)

2.Make a donation to a reputable Islamic charity or NGO that is in the business of shipping food and medicine, rather than bombs, overseas. It sure would be tough to crack down on groups like this if the majority of folks in the US were writing them checks. Send your contribution in the name of [insert name of torture-votin’ senator/representative here]. If a guy can get the Marines to put the name of his son on a bomb . . .

3.Get your church or synagogue to partner up with a local mosque; like that Sister City program. Trade congregations one weekend. (Come on Christians, put your money where your mouth is on that whole Good Samaritan/“love your enemies”/“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren” business. Mennonites, Quakers, and the like, you guys are off the hook. Keep up the good work. OK, we’ll throw in the Unitarians as well – they’re all going to hell anyway. :) )

4.Next time you are in an international airport and you spot fellow humans wearing keffiyehs or burqas (you know, the ones we’re led to believe fit that oh-so-accurate racial profile), smile at them. I know it’s a goofey American thing to do, but it can’t hurt. Maybe even sit next to them. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve seen folks so dressed accorded a wide berth and worse while waiting for a plane. Seriously, if you were a “Jihadist” bomber, would you show up at the airport looking like the poster boy for al-Qaida?!

5.Download some music at Iraqimusic.com. Play it loud in your car so that the person next to you at the red light can hear it. Hell, sing along as if you know the words.

6.I heard this one from a poster at Digby’s. Get a T-shirt made up that reads: “Enemy Combatant.” How about, “I [heart] Muslims”? Or for the monotheists: “Allah is my God too.” Can you imagine everybody coming out of St. Thomas down on Fifth Avenue on a Sunday morning sporting this shirt? Dare to dream.

7.If you live in a Southwestern border state, check out or join one of the organizations that are trying to provide a counterpoint to the armed vigilantes (try not to be too hard on the latter, their world is falling apart – they’re just blaming the wrong people for it).

8.Sponsor a film at your local library, school, church, community center, etc. (e.g. “Turtles Can Fly,” “Balseros,” “The Circle,” “Mojados,” “The Cult of the Suicide Bomber,” “Paradise Now,” “The Day I became a Woman,” “POV: Farmingville,” “About Baghdad,” “Midnight Express”(?). Netflix has dozens of films from Iran and Iraq.). Have an open discussion afterward. (I started a film and history series two years ago and we manage to get 60-80 undergraduates to show up for film, lecture, and Q&A on a Friday night.)

Don’t let the bastards get you down (or win).


Hilzoy, I hope this comment wasn’t too long. I thought of putting it on the NYT thread but this one seems more appropriate. And I hope you will excuse the humor here; it’s not meant to make light, just a foil for the anger.

I'll add one more thing to Otto's list.

Muslim flight crew arriving in the US on non-American airlines are routinely hassled on arrival by airport security staff. A friend who works for British Airways tells me that, over the past couple of years, every single Muslim he knows who was working transAtlantic flights has asked specifically to be transferred off them because of the hassle they get put through on arrival. This means a cut in income, because long-haul flights get paid more, but evidently the extra money's stopped being worth the hassle. Call your local airport. Ask them what happens to flight crew who happen to be Muslim. And if they admit to the "security interview for Muslims" process, find out how you can protest it.

(I was trying to find a link to an example I saw recently of an Algerian-born Air France flight crewmember being driven to another airport a few hundred miles away for her "security interview" - this after she'd just worked a transAtlantic flight - and being delayed so long that she missed her flight home and had to go as a passenger. But I didn't bookmark the story, and I've lost it.)

And, of course:

What plans are you all making to try and block Republican plans to rig the elections in November?

And when the Republicans take control of both houses in November, as they undoubtedly will since there's still no broad public acknowledgement that the 2004 elections were rigged and solid safeguards need to be in place to prevent their being rigged this time - what plans do you have to try and get the malfeasance behind US elections investigated this time?

It's as simple as this: because they have refused to provide legitimate opposition, the Dems will receive no new votes from lefty voters who seldom vote because they're disenchanted. Because all they talk is terrorism, centrists and righties will shrug and think of them as Repug Lite and go vote for the "real" version. In other words, by abandoning their principles, they have cost themselves any chance in 2006, and possibly beyond. Doesn't matter what those of us who already vote Dem every time do; our votes haven't been enough lately. It's about new votes, and they just aren't coming.

So not only did they sell us out short term, but their short term sensibilities will cost us much more in the long term.

I don't want to abandon the party, but we must agitate for enough change that they begin to provide genuine opposition. Without it, they will never hold Congress or the White House long-term.

The Democratic leaders? No. If they went to the individual Democrats? In all honesty, yes. And given how many Democrats finked out on this -- twelve, bloody twelve -- that's a de facto Republican majority for the foreseeable future.

Other than Ben Nelson, though, who's the DINOiest of DINOs, most of those twelve voted out of pure cowardice, not actual conviction. (I mean, come on - Joe Lieberman. You'll never convince me, not for a second, that Joe Lieberman's vote on anything is out of conviction rather than self-important calculation.) A Democratic Senate majority gives those eleven chickenshits what they want more than anything else - cover.

And of those eleven, with any luck one (Lieberman) will be gone in November. Frank Lautenberg is retiring in 2008; Tim Johnson and Mark Pryor can be targeted in primaries the same year, if only to teach the sniveling shits a lesson.

Ah, Moe, I've been told you were once and honorable and decent man, I don't believe that anymore.

Things are fine in Iraq and the White House was firmly in control and had a plan:

The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author.
...
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls.
...
Vice President Cheney is described as a man so determined to find proof that his claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was accurate that, in the summer of 2003, his aides were calling the chief weapons inspector, David Kay, with specific satellite coordinates as the sites of possible caches. None resulted in any finds.
...
Mr. Rumsfeld reached into political matters at the periphery of his responsibilities, according to the book. At one point, Mr. Bush traveled to Ohio, where the Abrams battle tank was manufactured. Mr. Rumsfeld phoned Mr. Card to complain that Mr. Bush should not have made the visit because Mr. Rumsfeld thought the heavy tank was incompatible with his vision of a light and fast military of the future. Mr. Woodward wrote that Mr. Card believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was "out of control."

Oh yeah, the bill:

University of Texas constitutional law professor Sanford V. Levinson described the bill in an Internet posting as the mark of a "banana republic." Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh said that "the image of Congress rushing to strip jurisdiction from the courts in response to a politically created emergency is really quite shocking, and it's not clear that most of the members understand what they've done."

In the meantime I hear sirens, I'm guessing Cheney just arrived at the White House.

comments like this at RedState:

    and because the SCOTUS asked Congress to act on this, that means they have to accept whatever bill Congress enacts, even if they plan to take Lenin's brain and install into the President's head.

...make me sad for our school system.

So....what to do? I'm thinking of hooking up my color printer, putting in a picture of each Senator who voted for this bill, and mailing it to their offices with the caption:

Objectively Pro-Torture

Or maybe cafepress t-shirts or something. I don't effin' know. Can't vote them out living in DC. I suppose walk across the street in front of the White House holding up a "Bush Supports Torture" sign everyday at noon.

And for some reason, I don't feel any safer this morning.

Wow, that last comment by me is incredibly lame.

I'm going to this, at Northwestern. The main event is at Seton Hall, and here's a list of participating schools.

I am not a US citizen, but this really bothers me. Would my sending emails to your senators do anything? I was on line this am (aus time) just as the vote was counted. I was so angry, I almost cried. I wish your Democrat candidates luck for the upcoming elections. As the only way through this appears to be getting the majority, hopefully, in both the house and senate.

I am not a US citizen, but this really bothers me. Would my sending emails to your senators do anything?

You might try lobbying the Aussie gov't to impose tariffs or somesuch on US companies as a direct result of this bill. Enough bleating by them might get Congress to actually do the right thing.

You might try lobbying the Aussie gov't to impose tariffs or somesuch on US companies as a direct result of this bill

That's a thought. Hey, Debbie, e-mail me offblog? Maybe we can start a Commonwealth campaign against this.

Ah, Moe, I've been told you were once and honorable and decent man, I don't believe that anymore.

I don't know what you find objectionable, Ugh. I think Moe's point (I didn't check with him, though) is to point out that every single one of the Democrats voting in favor are doing so, possibly, from a position of fear. I could be wrong, of course, but that's the way I read it.

And now I'm faced with a quandary: I'm certainly prepared to vote against Ric Keller for my local Congressional seat, but if I vote against Bill Nelson, I'll be either abstaining or voting for Kathleen Harris. I'm thinking that I can hold my nose and vote for Bill Nelson as the lesser of two evils.

I'm thinking I don't have all that many choices. At best, I can help get Mel Martinez defeated, but his polling shows he's in no danger.

I'm all for holding my nose and voting Democratic; but: I live in New Jersey. Both of my Democratic senators voted in favor of the bill. How do I react? Menendez is on the ballot in November -- I guess I have to vote for him (though I wrote a letter to the editor last night saying I would not) -- it's going to make me feel pretty sick to do so though.

(Note: both senators had staffers who claimed, in my repeated calls over the past week, that they opposed the bill.)

I took his beer comment as celebrating the bill's enactment, though upon re-reading perhaps I am mistaken. I also might have mixed him up with AE's post on redhot (hadn't had coffee at that point yet).

It's entirely possible that Moe IS celebrating passage; I just cannot tell from that post whether that's the case. Haven't examined comments too closely, though.

Damn...I didn't realize that Senator Salazar not only didn't support the filibuster, but voted for the bill. Clearly whoever said calling him was a waste of time was on the money. Blah.

Nonetheless, I refuse to give up hope. I've got the text of the bill for review today; I'll be posting an analysis of it later today or tomorrow, depending on how long it takes me to get through it all. Then I think we can start figuring out the best places to start turning it back. I suspect we can't get it all overturned at once, but there may be areas that are particularly outrageous (yes, I realize that's a relative term in this case) and that are more amenable to use as a public club with which to beat the Bush administration and the Republicans.

I'm all for holding my nose and voting Democratic; but: I live in New Jersey. Both of my Democratic senators voted in favor of the bill. How do I react?

I've come to the conclusion that this bill is the tipping point for me. I can, at this point, justify 'throwing my vote away' on write in and third-party candidates.

--Jeff

Ugh: I took his beer comment as celebrating the bill's enactment, though upon re-reading perhaps I am mistaken.

Perhaps. But on re-reading (post-coffee) while it could be read neutrally, merely noting that the bill had passed with the assistance of a dozen Democratic Senators and despite the "usual screaming" from the "activist base", there is certainly nothing in it to indicate that Moe himself opposes the bill and wishes it had been defeated. Then again, judging by the majority of the comments that follow, had Moe dared to say anything like that on Redstate, he'd have been shot to pieces.

every single one of the Democrats voting in favor are doing so, possibly, from a position of fear.

No. Not every single one.

Debbie Stabenow, yes. Menendez, yes. (And what do they fear? Not terrorists, but the effect of the fear and ignorance of their voting public, exploited by millions of dollars worth of Republican attack ads.)

Frank freaking Lautenberg, who's retiring in two years? What's his excuse?

Ben Carper, D-MNBA? He has no meaningful opposition. I can only assume he's a true believer.

Jeff -- do you live in NJ?

Jeff -- do you live in NJ?
Nope. I'm a Chicago guy. The local democrats voted against it.

How cute. CNN has a single line buried in its story list: "Senate OKs bill for detainee trials." Right by "Guy in neon Speedo-thingy embarrasses nation."

I wish I were kidding.

While some of the provisions of the bill may be undone by the courts, I have serious doubts that any of the rest of it will be repealed for many years. Even if Democrats retake both chambers, even if a Democrat is elected in 2008, once the legislation exists then there's going to be too much fear of what happens if they repeal it and then something happens.

I agree that if Democrats had controlled a chamber this might not have passed, but now that it's passed it's too late. Of course we still have to work to prevent the next betrayal of American values from happening, and the only chance of doing that is to work for a Democratic victory.

Nope. I'm a Chicago guy. The local democrats voted against it.

Then... how come you are going to throw away your vote on a write-in? Or did you mean if you were in my position that's what you'd do?

Chi-town. I grew up a couple of hours due east of there, listening to WLS and watching WGN. Seems there was a radio news station out of Chicago, too, and for some reason I recall that it too was WGN. Wally Phillips might ring a bell, but you're probably too young to remember him.

And of course there's the endless commercials for Lincoln Carpets and Empire and some Ford dealer or other, all of whose telephone numbers are, sadly, etched in my memory. 588-2300, EMPIRE! National-2-9000, call now!

You'll never convince me, not for a second, that Joe Lieberman's vote on anything is out of conviction rather than self-important calculation.
Then why did he get himself defeated in a primary? If all of Lieberman's votes are motivated only by political calculation, he needs a new calculator.

CharleyC has a good post with great quotes.

Katherine, thanks so much for the pointer to the Guantanamo Teach-In.

(However, the Seton Hall organizers should rectify a big omission. Neither the page you linked to nor the home page mention what day the teach-in takes place, October 5.II had to go to the 'how to participate' page to find it.)

"They" didn't cave in. Twelve did. And one of them isn't a Democrat any more, kicked out by his own connstituents. It isn't fair to get into "the Democrats" finked, etc. SOME did. Most did not. On the other hand only one, only ONE Republican did the right thinng. There is a diffference in the parties and people who take their marbles and go home over this are helping to re-elelct Republicans. They are responsible for the consequences of that.
I do have a great deal of sympathy for people in Nelsonn's, or Salazar's state or the home state of one of the other pro-torture Dems. I was afraid that Maria Cantwell would put me in that position. I also feel cheated because I gave a one hunded dollar donation to Nelson months ago and I contributed to Salazar, too. Boy, was tht a waste of money. But not totally. After all Harris is cerrtifiable and Coor is an all-too-typical Republican thug.
So the answer is to support progressives evverywhere and to support primary challenges against the pro-torture twelve. God I hope Lamont takes Lieberman out. Giving up or quitting or going to a third party is another form of collarborationn. That kind of thinking gave us Bush in the first place.

While I'm sympathetic to voting 3d party, let's remember that even the Democrats who voted for the bill would also vote to make Senator Reid majority leader, and as hilzoy noted, had the Democrats been in charge of the Senate, this bill never would have passed. So, despite their failings, there are good reasons to vote for even the Democrats who chose to vote for this bill.

Yes, Andrew. That's just another reason why voting for Bill Nelson is a no-brainer.

And it does make me go Hmmmm that this bill has come up for a vote now, after the primary. I have no idea what it could possibly mean, but I do question the timing.

Not entirely serious about that. But I think I've just been tipped over into giving Charlie Stuart my vote. Ric Keller has been making much of that he's leading Stuart by 19 percentage points in the polls, but Keller only has 50%, with 16% being undecided. Granted, it's a House seat, and doesn't have the same value, but it's a place where I can make my displeasure known in a way that counts.

This is super:

A last-minute change to a bill currently before Congress on the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay could have sweeping implications inside the United States: It would strip green-card holders and other legal residents of the right to challenge their detention in court if they are accused of being "enemy combatants."
...
"This would purport to allow the president, after some incident, to round up scores of people -- people who are lawfully here -- and hold them in military prisons with no access to the legal system, whatsoever, indefinitely," said Joe Onek , senior policy analyst at the Open Society Policy Center, a Washington-based advocacy organization.
...
The provision would have an immediate impact on Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri , so far the only known ``enemy combatant" held inside the United States.

Marri, a Qatari student arrested in 2001, has been held in a US military brig without charges for four years.

Disclaimer: read at your own risk.

Instead of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth; go for the jugular, dance with the devil and push for a Constitutional Convention to codify the new thinking, if it's as was suggested, problematic to have a Supreme Court ruling, take it out of their hands.

Although I agree with hilzoy about the necessity of the Democrats taking control of at least one hous, preferably both, I have to admit that Bob is starting to make more and more sense to me.

The problem here is that we live in a country where up to 50% still believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11 and that we found WMD in Iraq. We live in a country where I would estimate (based upon nothing in particular) that 75% of the population believes we are in a struggle upon which the survival of our nation depends.

We live in a country where probably most people believe that every person we have in custody is really a terrorist.

In the face of this ignorance, some deliberately induced, some based upon a certain naivity, it is so much more difficult for someone who really believes in the values of this country and the integrity of our values as outlined in the Constitution to make himself or herself heard and believed.

I have mentioned before that I believe the biggest motivator for most humans is fear, and the people who control and manipulate that fear have and will continue to have the most power.

I will work for the election of Democrats as much as possible, but I am beginning to despair of it having any real impact.

My one ray of hope came from CB yesterday when he commented that he is probably against the bill because of the absence of habeus corpus. If he can feel this way, perhaps there is a chance for a change for the better.

The Onion:

Senate Wins Fight To Lower Allowable Amperage Levels On Detainees' Testicles

There's a well-put case for the grit-your-teeth-and-gear-up-for-a-long-fight approach by commenter RT (in response to a tristero post at Hullabaloo declaring that we're in a fascist state).

Gary says hardly anyone clicks on links, so he or anyone is invited to paste in the comment here.

We're not in a fascist dictatorship, but we're definitely headed in that direction. Compare our situation in 1999-2000 with 2005-06.

We have no assurance that we know all of what's been done in our names. Think how the NYT sat on the warrantless spying story, and might have forever if Risen hadn't been coming out with a book. Think of how limited and precious is the resource pool of well-connected, well-backed reporters, and how many leads each of them has found impossible to follow up to the degree needed to publish -- or, in the new climate of surveillance and legal threats -- inadvisable to follow up right now.

I've seen the excerpt from Milton Mayer's book They Thought They Were Free many times, mostly as comment on situations for which it seemed an overly portentous commentary. But today, parts of it are all too apt:

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice — ‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

Then... how come you are going to throw away your vote on a write-in? Or did you mean if you were in my position that's what you'd do?
Apologies -- that is what I meant. 'If I were in your shoes.' Honestly, I just don't know. I'm just angry; with legislators to some degree, but also with the large numbers of fellow Chrstians who didn't care enough to know, or worse, cared and SUPPORTED torture. The Church in North America has sold its soul for a seat at the table in power politics. There have been signs before, but this display makes it impossible to ignore.

I feel sick, in a sad and horrified and disappointed sort of way.

That said... Slarti, thanks for the Empire comment. :) You brought a smile to my face. Those ads are STILL going...

My earliest memory of those ads, by the way, comes from about 1973 or so.

Moe Lane can be a subtle fellow. He can lick your face and stick a thumb in your eye simultaneously.

It's a little difficult to parse what he might be saying in his two posts at Redstate, although the denizens of the thread swamp have little doubt in their minds. My guess is he's pointing out that the Democrats who voted for the final bill did so largely because they manage to get elected in largely Red districts and States despite their liberals leanings.

And, that a vote against the bill might have thrown many of those areas to Republicans, forever. And, that once that happens, the netroots will come to realize that the Republican majority in the country is much larger that they(we) realize and we are largely irrelevant.

Torture is the winning strategy. Embrace torture if you want to win. Because America likes it. Hurricanes are pretty cool, too. Hurricanes and torture. If I ever run for office, I would promise to provide more of both.

This is to some extent, I reckon, why Salazar voted for the Bill. Even though the State races look pretty good for Democrats, he walks a thin line -- he must. Incidentally, his brother John Salazar, a conservative Democrat in the House just had a Muslim staff member go on leave because she decided to independently take on Mullah Tancredo and his ravings regarding how things ought to be handled.

I imagine the calls to both Salazar boys regarding this incident outnumbered the calls regarding the torture bill. Folks in Colorado are all very nice at the grocery store, but there is a highly motivated and active contingent who can summon up a good bolus of hatred and spit it over the phone lines.

Jeff: The [Christian] Church in North America has sold its soul for a seat at the table in power politics.

Ummm, well... some parts of it. U.S. Christians are so diverse that it's very hard to speak meaningfully of the Church in the U.S.

Largely sold out to power and actively promoting the worst aspects of this ever-expanding-power executive and rubber-stamp Congress: Southern Baptist Convention, the fundamentalists like the Assemblies of God and the Pentecostal Holiness, some of the megachurches, and the not-one-bit-Christian political and fundraising coalitions into which they have been organized (Falwell's Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson's empire, the "Patriot Pastors" of Ohio and elsewhere). And I'll freely admit, those are the growing churches.

The shrinking "mainline Protestants" (United Methodists, non-ARP Presbyterians, one branch of the Lutherans, Episcopalians) have been on the freedom-loving, constitutional side of this struggle when they've engaged it (which more are beginning to do, through the National Religious Coalition Against Torture).

The "peace churches" (mainly Quakers and Mennonites) have been completely committed and mobilized on these issues for a long time, but especially since the September 11 attacks. Readers of maxspeak.org are aware of the role Mennonites played in supporting Kurdish immigrants in Harrisonburg who were charged with terror financing; Max's co-blogger Barkley Rosser has had a whole series of posts following the story.

The Roman Catholic Church in North America is a very mixed bag wrt to Jeff's assertion. Some bishops have done exactly as he charges, and some congregations. Some congregations support active involvement in anti-death-penalty and Amnesty International programs. Most are sitting out overtly political issues other than abortion.

Ummm, well... some parts of it. U.S. Christians are so diverse that it's very hard to speak meaningfully of the Church in the U.S.
I suppose you're right. I wish -- I really wish -- we had some sort of convenient catch-all for the politically active and powerful coallition of Christians that is running roughshod over Scripture in its quest for tactical political advantage.

Apologies if my blanket-statements were too broad or too harsh. It's... not been a pleasant morning. I'm still kind of reeling, I suppose.

And for the record, one of the reasons it makes me so angry, and sick, is that through the 90s I was an active and vigorous member of that movement, promoting, volunteering, publishing zines, writing puff pieces on Conservative legislators and lobbyists, etc.

In my small way, I helped build this beast. And it's killing me.

I thought I'd detected an element of that, Jeff. Huge of you to admit to it, though.

Thanks, Slarti.

The last half-decade has been strange, watching people I worked with or interviewed or was in contact with parade by on TBN or CSPAN or be quoted in shrill Salon articles. I find myself torn between explaining to liberal friends that these people are genuinely sincere and -- in the majority of cases -- not motivated by anger or hatred... and shouting at the people I used to run with and asking how they could possibly betray their own values so profoundly.

It's difficult because I recognize the tendency to react in the opposite direction -- the inclination to demonize the 'team' I used to be on, the way I learned to demonize its opponents. And that's certainly no solution. Sigh.

although the denizens of the thread swamp have little doubt in their minds

have they ever?

Jeff, I don't mean to pry, but are they all really sincere? I realize you can't know what is in their hearts, but looking back, did any of these people give you cause to say 'he's not in it for the reasons I am'? Please feel free to ignore this if you don't want to answer.

Thinking, thinking...

1)For those detainess whose identities are known, would it be useful to contact and pressure the countries of origin?

2) IIRC, many of the overseas detainees are in Iraq. Since most of those are Sunni, a quick withdrawal would probably result in their deaths, but maybe some would get free, and at least America would no longer be detaining them.

Our representatives may in the short, decide for themselves how to approach Iraq. After the election, however, pressure could be put on them should be applied.

The bill has been passed. I don't know if there is any short term point to complaining about it. I certainly wouldn't want a Democrat to think they got elected because they supported the President, which would make them more difficult after the election.
But I wouldn't want to publicly pressure them in a way that might create a loss. The goal now is to elect people.

I don't know how many letters or phone calls you can send before they start ignoring you. Pacing could be important.

Jeff, I would imagine it can be a little disorienting at times.

And you are right, many of those folks are very sincere. I think it is mostly the lower ranks that fall into that realm. I think many of the leadres know a good thing when they see it and take advantage of their flocks.

But that may be my cynicism shining through.

By "admit", I didn't mean in the sense of admitting a wrongdoing. I meant it more in the way of a confession.

Jeff, I think that you're evidence that people can, in fact, change. Rarely can people change who they are, but people can change what they do, and how they think, and not remain glued to error. I think this is where real-world change comes from, and even though it's rare, it's possible.

Even more rare, though, is changing your relationship to something that's been core to your upbringing. So: major props.

In further Red State news, Thomas over there is calling everyone here morons. Nice.

Other than that, I am speechless. I'm really starting to feel much more Norwegian now than American, at least based on what America seems to be becoming. It's sad.

Other than that, I am speechless.

Not me. I've seen this kind of binary thinking before. It's hard to miss, these days. Possibly I've even indulged in it myself.

Unfortunately, Thomas seems to have lost track of who the enemy is. Or, more to the point, of who the enemy is not.

Jeff, I don't mean to pry, but are they all really sincere? I realize you can't know what is in their hearts, but looking back, did any of these people give you cause to say 'he's not in it for the reasons I am'? Please feel free to ignore this if you don't want to answer.
I can't speak to this issue in particular (torture), as I've been 'on the outs' with that crowd for quite some time now. And I can't say that I had personal day-to-day contact with any decision makers. I intervewed Congressmen, I talked to lobbyists, I coordinated with people from the American Life League on a few things, I worked with the people from the Family Research Council on local issues and research. That kind of thing. I can win the Six Degrees Of Conservative Christian Politicos game, but the day in day out stuff was with other folks at the grass roots and the congregational level and the volunteer level.

And in those cases, I would say that yes. Most are sincere. Gravely mistaken about some issues, and compromised in that they have tied themselves to power to accomplish things they feel are important, but sincere and motivated at least nominally by 'good things.' I'll try to explain what I mean, though I'll be a bit rambly.

The problem, I believe, is one of ideology. Not specific beliefs, but the tremendous power of ideology-as-a-unifying-force. The idea that liberals are doing things that are destructive to our country and our families and so on becomes, slowly but surely, a given. A presupposition. And when an issue like this comes up, something where political battle lines are drawn, breaking out of the ideological rut is mind-bogglingly difficult. It's like diving straight into a cold pool of cognitive dissonance.

I imagine it was what folks felt like after raking Bob Packwood over the coals only to find out that Clinton, for all his other talents, was a horndog who got it on with his employees. (That was not an attempt to justify the circus that followed, just pondering and reflecting on the strange about-face that I saw many people pull when they realized Clinton had done something that they had long called reprehensible.)

We find ourselves in a culture where PR, spin, and legalese are used to great effect. We've legalized abuse of prisoners in a bill that most people -- if they didn't check out the details -- could easily believe was meant to PREVENT it. Making sense of that stuff requires discipline and effort -- and a willingness to cut through lies that could be coming at you from either side or both sides of an issue.

Once the ideology of Our Team and Their Team becomes entrenched, it becomes harder and harder to critically assess those things. This is not to excuse people who support monstrous things. Rather, it's... I don't know. An attempt to make sense of it. I suppose I see it in the same way that I see leftist students from the 60s making excuses for the opressive abuses of leftist dictators. There are passions that can blind us to ugliness in our own 'camp', and the longer we turn a blind eye to them, the harder it is to keep ourselves clean.

That ideology, too, combines with the slow creep of winning-at-any-cost. You start with something you believe is GOOD. Like, say, freedom and democracy. Then you see someone whose actions are a threat to it. And you fight them. And you keep ratcheting up the conflict until you've started to betray the very things you're fighting for. Unless there are limits, unless you are willing to lose for the things you hold dear, you eventually loses the right to claim that one is 'fighting for good'. *ponder* But that's a whole 'nother topic.

And you are right, many of those folks are very sincere. I think it is mostly the lower ranks that fall into that realm. I think many of the leadres know a good thing when they see it and take advantage of their flocks.
I do think there's a good amount of that. And to be fair, I think the same criticisms can probably be leveled at various Democratic legislators on womens' issues and racial issues. There will always be people who work to press hot buttons for political power.

And, of course, there are also people who genuinely do advocate horrible and ugly things. People willing to torture innocents if it means stopping a terrorist. Breaking eggs to make an omlette and all that. Just as there are people who advocate forcibly confiscating all property and redistributing it equitably to eliminate inequality. The vast majority, though, find themselves tossed to and fro by arguments and -- in most cases -- unable or unwilling to invest days of their lives to sift through the distortions and discover the truth.

A few times in this thread I've drawn comparisons between left and right controversies and issues. I'm not trying to make any kind of equality statement, or justifying ugly behavior on the part of any ideological camp. More, just trying to offer some corrolaries that can... perhaps... humanize the people who form the rank and file of the 'pro-torture party.'

I think we have a long road ahead of us, and understanding those people... understanding how to relate to them as fellow human beings with legitimate fears, concerns, ideals, and compromises, will help roll back the tide more than just drawing up manifestos.

The ideological compartmentalization, the drawn battle lines on so many issues, make it easier for the unprincipled to lie and exploit ideological inertia.

*sigh* Meh. Still rambling. Don't mind me...

platosearwax:

In further Red State news, Thomas over there is calling everyone here morons. Nice.

Other than that, I am speechless.

Slartibartfast:


I've seen this kind of binary thinking before. It's hard to miss, these days.

Well, I don't know Thomas and can't speak for Thomas but it's true its not hard to find binary thinking.

In the face of this ignorance, some deliberately induced, some based upon a certain naivity, it is so much more difficult for someone who really believes in the values of this country and the integrity of our values as outlined in the Constitution to make himself or herself heard and believed.

We aren't ignorant, but those who disagree with us are.

We're not in a fascist dictatorship, but we're definitely headed in that direction.

Highway straight to hell, I tell ya'. Can't wait to see what dictator replaces Bush in 2008. I swear Kerry would be President if he could have talked less in 2004 and we Republicans would lose the Congress this year if the Democrats would talk less.

We have no assurance that we know all of what's been done in our names.

None whatsoever. Even though Congress is still elected and Democrats voted. And you certainly can't trust the troops to report any wrong doing.

Moe Lane can be a subtle fellow. He can lick your face and stick a thumb in your eye simultaneously.

Now that's polite.

Torture is the winning strategy. Embrace torture if you want to win. Because America likes it.

Yes, we evil ignorant Americans love torture.

The [Christian] Church in North America has sold its soul for a seat at the table in power politics

For some reason, something about throwing stones comes to mind.

I suppose you're right. I wish -- I really wish -- we had some sort of convenient catch-all for the politically active and powerful coallition of Christians that is runningproughshod over Scripture in its quest for tactical political advantage.

Roughshod over scripture? Are they really even capable of not misinterpreting scription in their ignorant state of being.

You will all be subject to Sharia soon... Bwahahaha.

Oops wrong religion.

although the denizens of the thread swamp have little doubt in their minds.

Unlike here, where all the open minded people welcome those of all beliefs with open arms.

Jeff: There are passions that can blind us to ugliness in our own 'camp', and the longer we turn a blind eye to them, the harder it is to keep ourselves clean.

That's absolutely true.

I find the only defense against it is to say "There are some things that I will not support, no matter who is doing them and whatever they claim their motivations are. And there are some things that I can only justify if the immediate result is both unquestionably good and cannot be accomplished unless I do this."

It is awfully tempting - when you're sure of the essential rightness of your cause - to say "Yes, this thing I am doing is maybe not so good, but I can justify it because I know my cause is good."

Torture is not something that can ever be justified - not with the "ticking timebomb" scenario or with any other.

But what someone came up with on one of several You're Not Allowed To Kill Civilians threads on Slacktivist, was "Suppose you are armed with a bazooka and you have a terrorist in your sights who is about to press a button that will kill a million people, but the terrorist is surrounded by children. Do you fire the bazooka, killing the terrorist and the children before the terrorist can push the button?"

And the answer is, in that improbable scenario, yes, you probably do: if you are directly saving a million people, you can justify directly killing a dozen. But that argument doesn't justify deliberately killing civilians by dropping cluster bombs on city streets in the hope that dropping the cluster bombs may save some soldiers' from enemy forces. Nor does it justify firing missiles at alleged terrorists, killing the civilians round them, because if the victim is a terrorist and is allowed to go on living he may commit more killings.

On my own side of the fence, one of my key points was when someone asked me if (supposing a test for the "gay gene" were devised, and was accurate) I would support a homophobe terminating her pregnancy because she had discovered her fetus had tested positive for the "gay gene". I thought about it, and decided: It is wrong to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she has decided she wants to terminate. No matter how wrong I think her reasons are for deciding to terminate, it is never right to force a woman to bear a child she doesn't want.

Nice try bril, at least in regard to where you quoted me. However, it would be nice if you placed my comment in context, where I listed several things that many Americans, even some Democrats believe which are demonstrably false.

Believing something which is wrong is a form of ignorance, which is different from stupidity. And the reason for that ignorance is twofold:

One is a media which prefers not to talk about the truth.

The other is a fear which increases a person's willingness to believe things which are not true.

People really want to trust their government, even when that government has lost all reasons to be trusted.

bril:

The [Christian] Church in North America has sold its soul for a seat at the table in power politics.
For some reason, something about throwing stones comes to mind.

It is not a problem unique to Christians, to be sure, but it is -- without a doubt -- something that has happened. I think my posts above make clear that I have no illusions about one ideological camp or another being immune to the sins of hypocrisy and rationalization.

I stand by my statement. It comes from experience and observation.

Jes:

And the answer is, in that improbable scenario, yes, you probably do: if you are directly saving a million people, you can justify directly killing a dozen.
I explained it to a Christian friend of mine the other day this way: 'There is a difference between forgiving someone for making a horrendous choice when no other options could be seen... and saying that the horrendous thing is Just Okay.' I think we've all grappled with the 'Would you blow up a schoolbus to save the city' kind of scenerio. If I were to find myself in that improbably position, I believe that accepting responsibility for the horror of that dilemma would come with the territory. You and I both know that's the camel's nose scenerio rather than the real issue, though. Just as the 'would aborting a homosexual fetus be acceptable' question is really about trying to induce internal dissonance.

I think there are five significant components of the torture issue. Starting with the pragmatic and working towards the moral and ethical.

1) Does harsh treatment of prisoners give us useful information needed to stop 'ticking timebombs' and developing threats?
3) Do we believe that someone's bad actions -- or planned bad actions -- means that they 'deserve' this treatment, even if it does not help in other ways?
3) Are we willing to subject the innocent to the same treatment, when we are mistaken?
4) What lines have we crossed, in our national soul, when we decide that such treatment is acceptable?

It is awfully tempting - when you're sure of the essential rightness of your cause - to say "Yes, this thing I am doing is maybe not so good, but I can justify it because I know my cause is good."
So very true. I remember CS Lewis -- who is generally not the go-to guy of relativism -- noting in one of his letters that real, true personal transformation occurs when you honestly step out and look at yourself as someone who disagrees with you does. ANd that once you have done that, truly, you may not change your views but you will never be the same. Your world will never really be the same.

I know it wasn't for me.

In further Red State news, Thomas over there is calling everyone here morons.

this would be the same Thomas who, IIRC, said in a comment after the whole Ben Domeneceh scandal that if the entire American left dropped dead at that moment he wouldn't shed a single tear. The "modern Republican Party is fitfully on the side of Life" my ass.

Unfortunately, Thomas seems to have lost track of who the enemy is. Or, more to the point, of who the enemy is not.

I don't think you give him enough credit, he knows exactly who the enemy is.

Re: Redstate

You know, I used to argue with some of the folks over there, under this name and others. Many of them I found respectible opponents. But more and more, I don't even recognize who they are anymore. The anger I see in so many comments really shocks me, even more so because they are winning/have won.

It's getting more and more difficult to find right-wing sites where I can argue rationally.

Well, I'm sure that Moe Lane has taken Thomas in hand behind the scenes at Redstate by now and has expressed his great discomfort with such horrible, hurtful partisanship. So much discomfort that he can't handle it and will need to bow out.

In other news, Haystack at Redstate has finally realized the Marines in Iraq need him. Well, they need his cookies. Cookies made of spotted owl. But which taste like chicken, or hay. I can't tell the difference.

The Marines ask for more Marines, but all they get is cookies.

What I like about Thomas' rant is his inclusion of "our" "war on tax-cuts" among the awful things that might occur if "we" win a few seats in November.

There will another 9/11, western civilization will end, and if that was not enough, his taxes might rise a little bit.

If I were Thomas, I'd start ramping up the effort to strip habeas corpus from the anti- tax-cut jihadists. You can't be too careful.

There must be a Democrat or two in such trouble that they would vote for that, too.

I'd like to see an ad run by the RNC that shows the Twin Towers falling down. A voice-over would merely ask "Can you expect more of this if the Democrat Party wins the House?"

The response from frightened Americans across the land would be, "By God, this means only one thing -- those liberals are going to raise my taxes!"

Terrorism tastes like tax hikes.

Moe, alas, like Thomas and Josh Trevino, is a troll with his own blog. It should be called "Under the Bridge."

I'd like to say that bril quoted me correctly and his response "Now that's polite" was entirely accurate.

I was being polite. Beats me why everyone is a afraid of a little polite trash talk. You'd think I had just suggested stripping Ann Coulter of the right of habeas corpus.

Though I'm happy to have that new law in my quiver if I ever become President.

As to all the open-minded folks here welcoming those of all beliefs with open arms, I figure once folks are labeled "unAmerican" and "dead to me" and liable to cause "another 9/11" and "as good as pulling the trigger on our soldiers overseas", no one would mind if I was close-minded, too.

View it as a bonus.

if that was not enough, his taxes might rise a little bit.
Depending on his income, it might be even worse: other people's taxes might rise, those others being people who are much richer than he is, and therefore his betters.

Dammit Thullen! Stop contributing to the cesspool. Or, if you're going to do it, please do it a bit less artfully.

Anarch: You only have to go as far back as NAFTA to find this level of systemic damage. Don't kid yourself: those 12 defections were out of principle, just as Clintonism was. And some people think Nader and his supporters were the cause of all our woes.

lily: Some of us remember the last Democrat to live on Pennsylvania Avenue and quite sagely conclude that Bush is no more than business as usual.

punkassmarc: Good luck, good luck, good luck. You'll need every ounce of it.

Gary is shrill.

While severely disgruntled and recovering from surgery I heard this great news tonight worth sharing.

Excerpts from The Keystone Poll:

Joe Sestak leads 44-percent to 43-percent among registered voters. The race remains looks about the same when one considers likely voters: Sestak 45-percent to Weldon’s 44-percent.

In the US Senate race, Democrat Bob Casey leads incumbent Republican US Senator Rick Santorum, 49-percent to 32-percent.

Keystone Poll info available ">http://www.fandm.edu/keystonepoll.xml"> Here and PA 7th District Poll Summary http://edisk.fandm.edu/FLI/keystone/pdf/Key7CD06summary.pdf> Here.

Douglas: Others of us remember the last Democrat to live on Pennsylvania Avenue, and quite sagely conclude that those who claim that Bush is no more than business as usual must be selectively editing their memories of what things were really like in the last deace of the 20th Century.

Jeff: Apologies if my blanket-statements were too broad or too harsh.

None needed at all. I was just clarifying.

I really wish ... we had some sort of convenient catch-all for the politically active and powerful coallition of Christians that is running roughshod over Scripture in its quest for tactical political advantage.

How about "the religious right"? That used to be the term of art; not sure what made it go away. I suspect it's the religious right's ascendancy to power.

I have enough contempt for the fakeness of the Christianity of Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Wildmon, and their ilk to call them Kristians in private discussion, but I doubt that's suitable for most public writing. I mean it, though; if more people understood the extent to which Falwell and the LaHayes are allied with the Moon organization, they'd never fall for the pious b.s. those hucksters put out.

Just today, I participated in an interactive robo-call "survey" paid for by the Virginia affiliate of Focus on the Family. Now, supposedly, they're a religous and charitable organization with a 501(c)3 tax exemption. In fact, that call was voter ID to determine my suitability for get-out-the-vote contact in November. (You will be unsurprised to learn that my answers disqualified me for GOTV, and probably for future calls.) I'm as sure as I'm sitting here that those calls were only placed to registered voters. It was no kind of "survey".

I want their tax exemptions removed. I want to expose these "godly" political activists as the fascists they are, who come, as Sinclair Lewis predicted, wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Strange, I thought I posted earlier, apologies if this doubles.

Great link rf. As a mea culpa, I have to note how easily the egg breaking thesis shifts over to a pox on both your houses philosophy, one that I have shaded over, especially considering this permitting torture bill. I could try and argue that being more ruthless in arguing against bad ideas is wholly separate from this, but that would be more of a cya (cma?) than actual argumentation.

Perhaps you'd be interested in a more gentle comment from a Republican visitor?

"1) Does harsh treatment of prisoners give us useful information needed to stop 'ticking timebombs' and developing threats?"

Seems reasonable to me. I've heard at least ancedotal evidence of it working.

"2) Do we believe that someone's bad actions -- or planned bad actions -- means that they 'deserve' this treatment, even if it does not help in other ways?"

Of course. Actually, for breaking the laws of war, "enemy combatants" deserve to be shot on the spot. (Enemies that don't surrender when their country has are a great motivation for carpet bombing everyone. Let's not encourage this.) They surely aren't legitimate POWs or citizens, and they don't have a right to a carefree captivity.

It's true that there is torture severe enough to be degrading to human beings in general. (Re: the 40-lash limit in Levitical law.) I agree that would be wrong. I don't think that we've gone this far. This bill is actually helpful in making sure we don't.

"3) Are we willing to subject the innocent to the same treatment, when we are mistaken?"

I haven't seen any evidence that anyone who could reasonably be considered innocent has been tortured.

I grant a mistake is inevitable, but that applies equally to our justice system. Shall we stop imprisoning felons?

"4) What lines have we crossed, in our national soul, when we decide that such treatment is acceptable?"

I don't know what a national soul is. But if I were going to claim that America placed a low value on human life, I'd pick abortion as my argument. I think we're treating our sworn enemies fairly well - perhaps too well. For all its horror, Hiroshima's devestation saved many lives that would have been lost in a longer war.

This bill is actually helpful in making sure we don't.

Can I point out that by preventing the accused from protesting, it may pretend to do that?

I also think that the 'releasing convicted felons' misses the point, since the persons that this bill targets have not had a proper trial?

Finally, I think it is a bit disingenuous to claim that you don't know what a 'national soul' is. I don't mean to be rude, but this statement only obtains if you, in response to the statement 'they hate us for what we are' ask 'What precisely are we?'.

Don't know how that question mark got in that second paragraph.

I haven't seen any evidence that anyone who could reasonably be considered innocent has been tortured.

Don't insult our intelligence.

In re the “if the Dems had held the senate” argument:

But they didn’t. There are reasons for this, and I don’t think votes – in the way that many of us think about representative democracy – have much to do with it. Check The Modesto Kid’s posts upthread and the response from his senators before the vote. This is an important clue. If I were a senator, would I care more about a call from a constituent or the wishes of those with the sort of deep pockets to fund my political campaigns and thus influence the opinions of my constituents? (I don’t mean to suggest a zero-sum game here, only point out the issue of relative power).

Hilzoy and others are genuinely upset and yet many of the comments here are the same old Rep v. Dem perspective. This is neither the core issue nor the solution. Put energy somewhere it will matter more. For example, see John Miller’s 11:20 comment on public beliefs regarding the GWoT. Instead of thinking, “I wonder how I can influence the next dog and pony show?” consider getting at a cause (e.g. public opinion, ignorance, racism, etc.) not a symptom. The authority figures will change everything? Indeed. Don’t look up, look around. (An important and reasonable caveat to all this is the RT comment in Nell’s 11:27 post.)

In re Jeff Eaton (1:09): “Once the ideology of Our Team and Their Team becomes entrenched…”

BANG!

Prodigal, what about this?: I don’t see the Bush administration as a deviation from business as usual so much as an intensification of a trajectory begun in the first decades of the 20th century.

In re Jeff Eaton (1:09): “You start with something you believe is GOOD…”

German fascism, in its way, provided some real solutions in the minds of many good people who were reeling from the aftermath of WWI and economic depression. Yes, I think many conservatives have a satisfying narrative, an ideological answer to the impersonal and socially disjointing effects of modernity that many liberals lack. I mumbled something about this on the “Sad, but True” thread, if you are interested and happened to miss it.


In re Nell (11:27): Yes, Milton Mayer!

One thing about fascists, they sure are a patriotic bunch. The fascist comparison is quite widely dismissed, but the only thing mitigating against more of us considering fascism in the US is American exceptionalism. We are not special – different in many important aspects, but not special. If fascism could appeal to so many Europeans over the last century, why can’t it show up across the pond, what stifles its appeal there?

I remember when I visited Dachau years ago. In the museum they showed a film containing old clips of German civilians being made to look at the skeletal bodies of the detainees, shuffle past mounds of human hair, etc. These Germans in 1945 were genuinely horror-struck and many were crying. I remember being up on a hill full of stone markers bearing only numbers indicating the amount of bodies buried underneath them. As I looked around at the houses below, I thought, “How in the hell were these folks not aware of what was going on right under their noses?” We are all being made aware of the answer to that question now.

I know I’ve harped on this before, but if it is at all possible for any of you, go see the OTM detention center in Raymondville, Texas. Especially after this recent bill, it has a real possibility of at least being a prototype for concentration camps. I am trying not to jump the gun on this judgment, but it sure seems to be part of the trajectory from Ashcroft and Gonzales’ legal opinions to Gitmo to the detainee bill. If anyone is interested, let me know and I will have my wife put up my photos of Raymondville on her website.

Well, it’s beer time. Prosit!, everyone.

Oh, oh, “The Tin Drum” just came out on DVD a few months back, if you haven't seen it.

Whitfox: If your comment about not knowing that anyone innocent has been tortured meets with skepticism, that's because we (and especially Katherine) have documented a lot of it on this site. If you want to consider an actual case, you might start here.

Thanks for the link, Hilzoy. That was deeply disturbing. I hope the criminal prosecutions are not dropped.

Still - that seems an argument for the bill that was passed, to the extent it calls for an executive statement about what interrogation practices are and are not permissible. Without confusion on standards, this travesty might have been nipped in the bud.

If what's reported in this link makes it on the accepted list, then I'll agree more severe legislative stricture is desperately needed.

Still - that seems an argument for the bill that was passed, to the extent it calls for an executive statement about what interrogation practices are and are not permissible. Without confusion on standards, this travesty might have been nipped in the bud.
Whitfox, aside from the subtleties that the bill is riddled with (the shift in determining who can be an 'illegal enemy combatant,' the lockout of the legislative branch, etc), what you describe above is actually the very nature of my disagreement.

For many many years there have been documents explaining what is and is not permissible, and an international consensus on what falls under those documents. We have agreed with that international consensus -- to the extent that we condemned others who strayed from it and called them torturers.

Now, we have an administration that has argued repeatedly that it has the right to ignore those treaties and agreements. Those treaties are based on the concepts of fundamental human dignities, but they are being undermined on the basis of technicalities and wordsmithing.

This bill 'clarifies' the current guidelines in the sense that it makes them more permissive, but still vague. It then grants the power of interpereting vague guodelines to people who have already claimed the right to disregard those guidelines at their own discretion. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Communist, or Scientologist, that bothers me.

It more than bothers me. It is an implicit legalization of things that our nation agreed -- for decades -- were torture. You compared it to abortion. I would encourage you, as someone who seems to be in the pro-life camp, to seriously consider this issue in the same terms. Can any of us claim to be pro-life, to support and honor human life, when we claim that the deliberate and prolonged infliction of serious pain and injury is a valid means of obtaining information?

We in the pro-life community are used to dismissing pro-abortion arguments as rationalization of murder, or distortions i nthe service of convenience. I'd ask you -- please -- step back for a moment and consider that many of us see this issue in the same way. Fear driven rationalizations of inhuman behavior.

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Don Q, I think you're mistaken about the source of that quote. A similar statement is attributed to Ben Franklin: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Bye, Don Q.

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"No. Having control of one house of Congress would have stopped this in its tracks."

That is exactly, precisely, 100% correct. And, the corrolary is that not having control of at least one house makes more of the same a foregone conclusion.

Reason will have no effect. Appeals to truth, justice, and the American way will have no effect. Appeals to basic human decency will have no effect.

If the path to holding power involves holding innocent people with no recourse or remedy, torturing people, or killing people, those currently in power will simply ask "Where do I sign up?" I feel absolutely comfortable saying that because *that is exactly what has just happened*.

We all saw it with our own eyes.

There is one remedy. Kick them out. Beat them. Spend money and time. Knock on doors. Drive people to polls in November.

Beat them. Kick the bastards out. When their toys have been taken away, they will listen. Not one moment before.

Beat them. Beat them in a landslide, or beat them by one vote. It's all the same.

Beat them. Kick them out.

donq,

"Anyone who is still a registered republican, or intends to vote for a republican after the last 6 years, may be many thing but honorable and decent is not one of them."

If only you would view your fellow Americans as traditional allies in the running of the U.S. government. Then you could work to build a "real" coalition like Democrats have historically. With such statements you seem to be insulting your traditional allies in this great democratic exprience we call America.

Next thing we know you will run out and act unilaterally. Sure you might have some supporters here at ObWi, but we all know that a coalition of the "willing" is not really a coalition.

Please continue to work with your fellow Americans in a sincere and honest way. Don't squander all the good will that has existed for so long and throw away such a rich history of cooperation.


bril: should one cooperate with fascists?

Geez bril, if you are going to do this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing, can you make a note of it in your handle? Maybe consensusbril and demssupportthetalibanbril? Don't squander all the goodwill we've built up on this list...

The only thing that anyone can do to stop this is pass it on. Please talk to any media outlet you can and make sure it gets in everyones face.

The general population has no idea about this bill. Change that and the rest will sort itself out.

shaun

bril: for what it's worth, DonQ was banned from this site some time ago. Since he seems to have an inexhaustible supply of IP addresses, but not the thought 'if they banned me, perhaps it would be polite to stay away', he turns up now and again, at which point I ban him again. (Twice this morning alone.)

Pls cntn t wrk wth yr fllw mrcns n sncr nd hnst w. Dn't sqndr ll th gd wll tht hs xstd fr s lng nd thrw w sch rch hstr f cprtn.

Wht gd wll? th gd wll tht cms frm ppl wh hv nrvr srvd d n thr lf nd stll hv th chtzph cll y trtr, thnk nt.

f th bnnd m, prhps t wld b plt t st w'

Wht cn s, hv n mnnrs!

brl,

NO QUARTER - r y rpblcn?


sk yrslf th fllwng qstns nd dcd, r y Rpblcn? (nd m plgs t Jff Fxwrth) f y nj shplftng whl wrkng t th Wht Hs, y mght b Rpblcn. f y nj slctng tngrs nd chldrn fr sx vr th ntrnt, y mght b Rpblcn. f y nj sndng thr ppls chldrn t wr whl yr kds g t cllg nd hng t n brs, y mght b Rpblcn. f y strt wr n rq whl lyng t th mrcn ppl tht Sddm ws td t sm Bn Ldn, y mght b Rpblcn. f y fld t cmplt yr wn Ntnl Grd srvc nd yr Vc Prsdnt rcvd fv dfrmnts t vd srvc n Vtnm, bt ccs pltcl ppnnts wh chllng yr fld frgn plc n rq f bng cwrds, y mght b Rpblcn. f y cll drk sknnd ppl Mccs nd Nggrs, y mght b Rpblcn. f y gnr ntllgnc cmmnt wrnngs tht Bn Ldn s dtrmnd t strk nsd th ntd Stts, y mght b Rpblcn. f y fllw plcs tht sqndr bdgt srpls nd crt n $. trlln dllr bdgt dfct, y mght b Rpblcn. f y xps th dntt f n ndrcvr C ffcr n chrg f trckng dwn rq wpns f mss dstrctn, y mght b Rpblcn. f y blv th Prsdnt shld b nttld t jl, wtht rcrs t Hbs Crps, nyn h dcds s thrt, y mght b Rpblcn.

hilzoy: Thought about disemvowelling?

I like Steven Poole's intervention tactic, which is "Translate your comment into the dialect appropriate to its content". Look at the comments from #72 on this post to see it in action.

Anarch: quel wonderful idea! Consider it done.

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Whatnot


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