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September 09, 2006


In my 8th grade government class many years ago, we had an exercise where each group of students were assigned to illustrate a violation of the Constitution in a judicial scene. (The subtext, of course, being that these kangaroo court proceedings might happen in other countries, but not here.) My friends and I went all out and did as preposterous and unfair a fake trial as we could imagine--including the refusal to let the defendant know the charges against him, call witnesses, and other things. It was so absurd I recall some of the other students laughing. I can't express how horrifying it is to see this come to life.

But I remain grateful to you, Katherine, for reminding us of the scope of what is going on in these matters and the stakes at risk.

I suppose, by the way, that a forcible conscript into the Taliban kept under armed guard the whole time, or a forcible conscript whose contribution to the war effort was to cook vegetables, might technically be an enemy combatant under international law. (or enemy belligerent--I've never taken international humanitarian law.)

But what earthly purpose does it serve to lock them up indefinitely?

And those are the people who actually were associated with the Taliban in some capacity.

This is just absolutely no way to run a counter-insurgency.

"This is just absolutely no way to run a counter-insurgency."

As hilzoy said a few threads ago, it's Manchurian Candidate bad.

Conservatives love to pretend that the rule of law can be administered by someone other than the courts. Hence they craft these legal abortions of "law." Rather than just reject the Geneva Convention, they make it impossible for prisoners to make use of it. Then they pretend that we are still abiding by it. Its basically the 1984 solution.

Every time I hear Republicans and Bush proclaim that they don't sanction torture... - the lying about it is as evil as the deed.

Why do Republicans love torture as well as this authoritarian and lawless "justice?" John Dean's book seems to be the best explanation -- that these are people without morals and a conscience. But I still find it hard to believe that so many people who have grown up in our country now embrace an ideology completely foreign to the traditions of our country.

There is no polite way to resist such people and their sicko ideology. To be a Bush supporter is to be for torture and lawlessness -- and if you are Republican and don't speak out, you are complicit.

dmbeaster: "Why do Republicans love torture as well as this authoritarian and lawless "justice?""

The most charitable explanation I can think of, for rank and file Republicans (as opposed to Cheney, Yoo, et al), is some combination of the following:

(a) things have been set up so that this is part of being on the anti-tterrorism side (just as supporting a list of pedophiles that doesn't involve being convicted of anything puts you on the anti-pedophile side.) If that's all you want, then you'll support the administration.

(b) it gets cast as a way of showing just how tough you're prepared to be on terrorists, and thus just how much you oppose them.

(c) There's a view of Democrats out there according to which we are soft and wimpy, and this particular complaint of ours is just more of our soft wimpiness, which someone who hadn't thought the issues through might want no part of.

(d) It's hard for people to admit just how bad a mistake Bush was.

Authoritarianism is a Republican attribute. Much like authoritarianism is an attribute among all right-wing nationalists.

"Authoritarianism is a Republican attribute. Much like authoritarianism is an attribute among all right-wing nationalists."

Just so we don't generalize.

(I'm imagining Founder Moe's reaction.)

I'm imagining Founder Moe's reaction.

Based on the past couple of years, it'd be "See, this is why we can't let the Democrats back in power."

Thus I said "Founder Moe," not "Current Moe."

But a mirror might be along the lines of "Weakness is a Democratic attribute. Much like weakness is an attribute among all left-wing internationalists."

Or "cowardice" or "communism" or "pacificism," or whathaveyou.

Just a touch of the broad brush. Was Nelson Rockefellar really an authoritarian? Is Lincoln Chafee? Olympia Snowe? Michael Bloomberg? Arthur Vandenberg? Calvin Coolidge? Governor James Douglas of Vermont? Jim Leach? Sherwood Boehlert? Chris Shays? Ron Pauls? Sebastian Holsclaw? Heather Wilson? Nancy Johnson? Abraham Lincoln? Connie Morella? Barry Goldwater? George H. W. Bush? Dwight Eisenhower? William Howard Taft? George Pataki? Everett Dirksen? Gerald Ford? Elliott Richardson?

Of course, one can make up a definition by which no one but authoritarians are real Republicans, and then claim that the statement is correct; tautologies always work -- that's the beauty of them.

Why do Republicans love torture as well as this authoritarian and lawless "justice?

There seems to be a generalized dream in this Administration that difficult problems can be resolved more quickly and easily than all previous experience suggests is the case. Hence, a nice clean quick war with minimal forces in Iraq to spread democracy; torture rather than cumbersome intelligence work and bureaucratic legal process, etc, etc. Scalia's opinions often complain about how the courts would be actually busy with cases if due process were followed. In a way it is a logical outgrowth of "conservative" state-minimalism: a kind of religion of (phantastical) efficiency.

I'm a bit hesitant to note this after Gary listed a billion names above, but the notion that efficiency solves everything that Steve Poole notes is probably the basis for authoritarianism: a sort of if I were in charge, I'd get the trains to run on time. When this is coupled with a refusal to admit to the problems that arise when you start rewriting the scheduling procedures voila! this administration.

I don't know, one of the things that bothers me about the Republican Party is that they DON'T like the trains running on time, because somehow our freedom is diminished if the trains happen to run on time.

In fact, they do their best to make the trains late, thinking maybe then we'll give up and each buy a Hummer and sit in traffic, which will give us time to get pissed off enough to then privatize the highways.

Odd, that.

Gary, I appreciate the point you're making about those particular politicians. Where you cut the sheep from the goats, though, is when you have an 'all hands on deck' moment, and some folks are cowering below.

This is one of those moments. The Supreme Court has basically given the political branches the choice: will we behave as befits a civilized nation, or will we not? The Administration is choosing to say "Not!" A citizen who stands silent -- especially someone like Connie Morella, who both knows better, and has a pulpit if she wants one -- is making a choice here. Sen. Snowe has voted and may again vote authoritarian on the question.


I have a question in re this part of your post:

-“Unlike the DTA, which only applied to Guantanamo, this bill's jurisdiction-stripping provisions apply to "any alien detained by the United States as an unlawful enemy combatant". Unlike the DTA, this bill specifically provides that "No person in any habeas action or any other action may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto as a source of rights, whether directly or indirectly, for any purpose in any court of the United States or its States or territories."

What is your opinion on the applicability of the administration’s bill to other aliens, in particular illegal immigrants? I ask because lately there has been a bit of conflating and confusing of illegal immigrants with terrorists, and I am putting together a paper for a conference on border issues and could use any help along legal lines that I can get.

I’m also heading down to check out for myself the new detention center in Raymondville, Texas for Other Than Mexican (or OTMs)) illegals. Some of you may be interested in the great article on the topic, “Jailhouse Nation,” in the 24 Aug 2006 issue of “Rolling Stone” (a Gitmo piece here as well). Also, check out some of the socioeconomic issues facing the residents of Raymondville and similar towns (like their almost 15% unemployment rate), the other places in the Southwest where similar projects are being pitched, contingency contracts for the same, and the federal funds being made available.


Gary Farber:

I agree with your list and would not get too broad brush about Republicans, even though I get angry and feel the tug to do so.

But its worth noting that the people on the list are marginalized within the party (or would be if still alive) precisely because they are exceptions to the current trend.

Although I resist generalized psycho-sociological explanantions like that offered in John Dean's new book about the authoritarian impulse, it seems to be on point.

Authoritarianism is a Republican attribute. Much like authoritarianism is an attribute among all right-wing nationalists.

As dmbeaster notes, this is becoming a perfectly valid definition. To say "but there have been exceptions" is simply to mistake what we're talking about--politics, not geometry. Any nontautological definition of Republican or Democratic values will omit to cover some Repubs or Dems.

(Aristotle: we must bring to each inquiry the level of specificity proper to it.)

I mean, we could always coin "Republifascists" for the militant fundamentalist ideology that's threatening the globe ...


I don't think it directly applies. It does appear to rule out anyone--citizen or noncitizen, enemy combatant or not--invoking Geneva in US courts. But Geneva doesn't really come up in the immigration context.

I'd have to do a closer reading to say for sure.

Are you familiar with the "material support of terrorism" bar to asylum, by the way?


Thanks for you clarification!

I am not familiar with the "material support of terrorism" bar to asylum. Can you point me toward some literature, maybe something I would miss on a library or Google search?

Anderson: What's wrong with Republicanists?

Otto--This piece is a good start.


Yes! Thanks. This is just the sort of thing I am looking for. And it may help point the direction toward why the detention center in Raymondville is for OTMs (folks from Brazil, Columbia, . . . Venezuela?).

Right-Wing Nationalists, throughout the history of Western civilization, tend to act predictably.

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