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May 21, 2009

Comments

He's essentially laying out his criminal defense in public, hoping that potential future jurors remember all these things he's said when considering whether to convict him after he takes the 5th.

Of course, it seems that none of that will happen, but he's the 1% guy so he's covering all his bases.

I always heard it as (and it's fitting, too):

The other day upon the stair,
I saw a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today!
He must be from the CIA.

What do you expect from a former high official from the Warmongering Torturers party?

He was literally gasping for air as he spoke. Creepy.

Uglyrug: "gasping for air"... or grasping at straws?

He doesn't know Dick
Except every torture trick.
The rules don't apply
Even if they die.

Listen to him bay
About his American way.
He doesn't know Dick
This man who is sick.

---btfb

I've left the issue of prosecuting Bush Administration people like Dick Cheney to folks smarter than I .......

.... and tend to think Obama's instincts are correct that the country has enough on its plate without a divisive multi-year drama ........

....... but each time Cheney, the snivelling traitor, opens his mouth on this issue, particularly at this early point in the new Administration, I want a full a riveting shut-the-country-down, screw-the-economy crisis, with guilty verdicts across the board and then I want Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci from "Goodfellas" dispatched to carry out the death sentence.

I don't care that Cheney is a made man.

They call him the Neocon Ninja.

The best way to deal with the snarling old man would be to make him irrelevant by ditching his policies.

But our attractive new king seems to like the policies, and apparently believes that the problem is that they weren't sold with enough lofty, city-on-a-hill language.

Indefinite detention without charge for the duration of the "war on terror"?

Frankly, I'd rather something that ugly, that strikes at the heart of our legal system be advocated by a snarling, angry man with a 20% approval rating. Because waaay too many people seem to think it's a reasonable proposal when it comes from Obama.

It leaves me gasping for breath.

Nell:"Because waaay too many people seem to think it's a reasonable proposal when it comes from Obama.

It leaves me gasping for breath."

Yep, it's bad bad bad, and now that it's coming out of a Democratic President's mouth, both major political parties have blessed "special procedures" for a "special class" of people. Odds are high that the "special class" will expand with time.

"I want Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci from 'Goodfellas' dispatched to carry out the death sentence."

Picking up on JT's movie theme, I see Dick Cheney on the witness stand snarling, "You can't stand the truth!"

---

"But our attractive new king seems to like the policies, and apparently believes that the problem is that they weren't sold with enough lofty, city-on-a-hill language."

The Great Obama, Nell.

"Because waaay too many people seem to think it's a reasonable proposal when it comes from Obama."

We are witnessing a kind of Oprah Winfrey Presidency, where style and staging is more important than substance, where we receive such workaday tips such as the proper way to cough . . . and we all nod as if we are hearing something from on down high.


"Odds are high that the 'special class' will expand with time."

Or narrow.

Barack Obama hasn't exactly been a man of the people so far.

The good news: He has the next 1,000 days to change that.

The Great Obama, our President the Constitutional Law professor, has come up with something called preventive detention.

And you thought the Bush Era was over.

R.I.P. Habeas Corpus.

"President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said."

Bush and Cheney left a giant festering turd in the punch bowl for Obama to clean up. I kind of feel his pain, because I can't think of a solution to the problem that doesn't violate our legal system in some way.

Other than, of course, letting clearly violent people walk because the evidence we have against them was obtained through illegal means.

Checkmate.

It's a poison pill, bequeathed to all us by f**king Dick Cheney and his pals.

The whole "enemy combatant" and "military tribunal" thing comes to us by way of FDR and J Edgar Hoover. A bunch of German spies had come to the US to engage in sabotage.

A couple of them gave themselves up to the FBI, but Hoover and FDR wanted to give the Germans the impression that it was our crack intelligence corps that foiled the plot. So, rather than try them in open criminal court, as was recommended by the Justice Dept and the military, they invented this sh*tty "behind closed doors" procedure, so they could keep the details of how the spies were captured under wraps.

There's always a good reason to take the short cut.

So, "unlawful enemy combatants" and "military tribunals" acquired a precedent, and were handy for use when Bush and Cheney wanted to piss on the Constitution and rule of law.

And now this weird extra-judicial limbo state of "preventive detention", or whatever name it ends up with, will be handed down to the next set of wiseasses.

I'm not sure what solution is available to the Gordian freaking knot presented by folks who actually do want to kill us, but who we can't prosecute because we have spent years torturing them.

It's a hard question.

But the solution we're getting sucks, because it utterly fails to address and root out the freaking rot that the last crew left behind.

Expect to see "preventive detention" put to good use next time any kind of sh*t hits the fan.

Thus spake Nell, and with good reason: "Frankly, I'd rather something that ugly, that strikes at the heart of our legal system be advocated by a snarling, angry man with a 20% approval rating."

And on that note, this song came up on my iPod yesterday--it's 20+ years old, yet oh so very timely:

Please don’t show your soul to me
I think I’d see the light shine through
And please don’t greet me on the street
I’d like to see a world without you
Please don’t change your uniform
And start to mourn the thousands dead
And please wear what you’ve always worn
And don’t be drawn by what I’ve said

’cause I’ve found there’s nothing more
That I could say to you
Nothing I could do to change your mind
Change your ways and your tune

So please don’t feel you have to sway
Or move away from how you feel
And please say what you mean to say
And always stay with a heart of steel

--The Housemartins, "Johannesburg"

As usual, russell, I agree with your sentiments.

As to: "I kind of feel his pain, because I can't think of a solution to the problem that doesn't violate our legal system in some way."

Over at Balloon Juice, commentator The Other Steve -- as opposed to "our" Steve, I guess -- came up with this novel proposal: "How about we treat Al Qaeda as a country and we keep them as POWs until AQ surrenders?"

Probably not doable.

But at least it's a thought.

Of course, if it were possible, giving AQ pseudo nation status would compel us to follow the Geneva Convention. Wouldn't it?


I just got through watching (listening to, mostly) Obama's speech (link is to TPM's page with the MSNBC video), and - with the exception of the preventative detention section - it was pretty goldarn awesome. Given that for the last seven or so years I've used a nom de comment I came up specifically as a rebuke to the Bush administration's deliberately simpleminded, secretive, and fundamentally dishonest approach to the events of 9/11, I found the speech, especially its closing section, tremendously heartening.

On the preventative detention issue, I'm with Russell (wasn't there supposed to be an acronym for agreeing with Russell, proposed in an earlier thread?): I'm not happy with the system Obama is proposing, but I don't see what he can do given the Hobson's choice the vandals of the Bush administration left him, and us, with. Although (unlike Obama) I'd at least like to see some prosecution of the people most responsible for leaving us in this trap.

I haven't listened to the Cheney speech. I'm still deciding whether I've got the stomach for it.

Pretty much 'what russell said', with this caveat:

"Checkmate."

Is it really? Or is it merely Check, and we can wriggle out of it? Because when I read this:

"Other than, of course, letting clearly violent people walk because the evidence we have against them was obtained through illegal means."

..it makes me wonder - don't we do this already? Granted it doesn't happen all the time, but if a defendant has good enough lawyers to argue tainted evidence, our system of criminal justice does just exactly this (I am so tempted to say "OJ Simpson", but I don't know if it is worth the threadjack).

So if we already let garden variety murderers, etc. walk, why can't we live with letting some of the Gitmo folks go even if we know that they will try to make us regret it later.

What are we talking about here, perhaps a couple dozen people at most? Is our more than 1/2 trillion dollar per year national security and intelligence apparatus truly that incompetent and useless that they can't figure out how to monitor a couple dozen people who we already know about, and then defend us against the worst they can dish out? If so, can I get a freaking refund please, because I want my money back. I thought that’s why the folks with the guns and the planes and the spy satellites were being paid the big bucks, to protect us. How are they going to protect us from the folks we don't even know about yet, if they can't do the job against people we've already identified?

What's more dangerous for this country: trying prisoners (in the existing civilian or military courts, not military commissions) and failing to convict some of them?

Or legalizing preventive detention?

How many men are we talking about here, who are they, and what real risks do we run?

Because I invite you to look at the history of destroying legal systems for political reasons. It's irreversible. The devil does round on you.

No choice, my ass. Obama, and we, have a choice. Face up to it.

From almost the beginning it was clear Obama wasn't going to go the route of challenging the whole basis of the Bush-Cheney swamp, because that would almost immediately make it impossible not to prosecute the crimes.

Instead, as in Afghanistan, he's going to buy in to the basic terms of discussion, and ask you to believe that vile things are better when done under his administration. Drone massacres make you look bad? Fire your general and replace him with a leader of kill teams. (And torture task forces, but don't ask any questions about those; it's "not helpful"!)

I can't agree at all with Warren Terra about the speech when there's such an immense gap between words and deeds.

Actually, I take that back.

Now I agree with TLTiA more.

Shorter me: land of the free and the home of the brave is a package deal. You don't get one without the other.

Now we need to be brave. Specially, we need to brave enough to let some clearly violent and threatening people walk, preparing ourselves to deal with them down the road, because we have no other choice without tearing down our system of laws.

I'm tempted to say "freedom isn't free", but this guy (http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html) put the same idea more better:

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Sometimes you screw up. In mishandling these folks at Gitmo, we screwed up big time. Sometimes when you screw up, you have to pay a price for that. God willing, we won't have to. But that's not for us to say.

I take that back.

What Nell said.

" . . . when there's such an immense gap between words and deeds."

Didn't Hillary Clinton once say something about Obama and speeches?

Oh, never mind . . .


Russell: “It's a poison pill, bequeathed to all us by f**king Dick Cheney and his pals”

At what point do we give up blaming the prior administration? That is all his speech was today – “It’s not my fault – I inherited this mess…” Well, Duh! You wanted the job and you knew what you were getting into. The 100 days and then some have passed. What the hell has he done beyond indebting future generations and likely wiping out what’s left of my 401(k) due to the inevitable inflation? He’s bobbing and weaving on DADT, military commissions, Gitmo, PAYGO, etc. He is still in campaign mode. He is running for ’12. He says one thing and does the opposite. Again and again. Pick any issue and tell me he lived up to his campaign promises. Governing is apparently a lot harder than running for office – which is most of his experience to date…

Me – New Years Day:
http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/01/alberto-gonzale.html#comment-6a00d834515c2369e2010536a2451c970b

“Fine. 2009 predications:

Obama is not going to do much at all about torture. He’ll go through some motions, give it some lip service. Gitmo will not close. Extraordinary Rendition will continue to happen.

FISA will stand as it is.

He’ll roll back some executive decrees. A lot of what Bush did will stand.

He will not significantly draw down troop strength in Iraq beyond what Bush already planned. He will surge troops in Afghanistan.
The war on drugs will continue on its stupid way.

He won’t do squat for LGBT folks. Not a damned thing.

He gave you a blank canvas to paint what you wanted to see – to get elected. Now that he is the man, his decisions will be forced by reality. He will not be in control – he will be responding to events. He will make Bush-like decisions. He may be a great president, or not. But he will be responding to events – not directing them.

Feel free to bookmark this and tell me how wrong I was one year from now.”

Didn’t take a year…

To temper outrage with a little dose of realism, I have a question for btfb @745pm and OCSteve @756pm. Who do you think would have done better, would have produced a policy that has all of the features we approve of in what Obama has wrought thus far, and none (or at least less) of the defects? Not some ideal person we can imagine, but an actual flesh-and-blood politician. Somebody on the scene today.

And what plausible scenario can you conjure up in which that better person could have succeeded in getting elected as POTUS? Especially given the way that these issues have already been framed (much thanks to our former VP who also gave a speech today), and the way our idiot media consistently buy into and repeat that framing? And factor into your calculations the near certainty that the US will be attacked again at some unpredictable point in the future, and the policies we want our perfect president to announce and implement need to have a robust enough popular consensus supporting them so as to survive that event.

If POTUS is a job for saints, all the saints are sending their resumes to the wrong place, because they ain't been getting hired.

""Obama is not going to do much at all about torture. He’ll go through some motions, give it some lip service. Gitmo will not close. Extraordinary Rendition will continue to happen.

FISA will stand as it is.

He’ll roll back some executive decrees. A lot of what Bush did will stand.

He will not significantly draw down troop strength in Iraq beyond what Bush already planned. He will surge troops in Afghanistan.
The war on drugs will continue on its stupid way.

He won’t do squat for LGBT folks. Not a damned thing.""


Well, to take your points in order:
Obama has banned torture, he has banned extraordinary rendition, and he has reiterated his determination to close Gitmo in the face of a 90-6 Senate vote against closing Gitmo any time soon. So unless you've got some evidence you haven't provided you're not right on anything in your first paragraph.

On FISA, Obama's votes as a Senator told us not to hope for much - you don't get many points for predicting little would happen there.

Your third line (a lot will stand) is too vague to be assessed readily.

Your assertion about Bush's plans for Iraq might technically be true if we believe that Bush planned to make significant cuts as he occasionally said he did, and as the agreement he had signed with the puppet Iraqi government required. I for one did not believe Bush; I had excellent evidence not to trust his pronouncements on this issue, going all the way to his predictions of an early exit in 2003.

Obama's intentions to surge troops in Afghanistan were no secret - again, no points.

Obama's reticence towards attempting major reform of the "war on drugs" was also no secret, but I will note that his new drug czar evinces a considerably more enlightened approach and has rejected the "war" metaphor. Also, Obama's justice department has quit persecuting "medical marijuana" (although as it happens I am opposed to tolerating the current "medical marijuana" system, because so much of it is fraudulent and because it has become an avenue for the middle class to indulge that is less open to the underprivileged). Most other changes would have to be legislative.

And, finally, on LGBT so far Obama has indeed not done squat, and he hasn't even seemed to offer much.

Meanwhile, of course, the other choices in the recent election offered still less on all of these issues (Clinton) or offered affirmatively destructive options (McCain, who has been determinedly been getting wingier and stupider since the inauguration).

I support, applaud and support Dick Cheney
(as do many others who have not spoken out).
In case the Dems think no one supports Cheney, think again. He is speaking for those of us that have no access to the airways.

So, wait, if he didn't do anything different from OCSteve's predictions in +/- 100 days, he doesn't get the other 265 to do so? What kind of a-hole metric is that?

[i]At what point do we give up blaming the prior administration? [/i]

Well, let's see, Bush and Cheney managed to blame Bill Clinton for 9/11 for 8 years, so at least that long.

Good one, J. Ball! Voice of the long-suffering "silent majority", who somehow have less ability to make themselves heard than the rest of us.

As it happens, no one here has access to the "airways", either. I hope you can take some comfort from the amount of attention that is being paid to your irrepressible spokesman.

"Who do you think would have done better, would have produced a policy that has all of the features we approve of in what Obama has wrought thus far, and none (or at least less) of the defects?"

Sorry, TLTiA, I see that question as irrelevant.

For better or worse, Barack Obama is our President.

Duly elected, by me and millions upon millions of others.

This isn't "Lost" -- there's no time-traveling.

This isn't stickball -- there are no do-overs.

"Not some ideal person we can imagine, but an actual flesh-and-blood politician."

Oh, yeah, many of those millions voted for an ideal -- for something better, for something American, for something that would make the country better, for Change They Could Believe In.

Perhaps that was a mistake. But what's wrong voting for an ideal? Especially when the candidate presents it in such a bright shiny package.

tough time to be an idealist, eh ?

guess what: politics isn't about your ideals; never has been, never will be. gripe all you want, but it's not about you.

What about putting a priority on helping homeowners -- not Wall Street and the bankers who largely got us into the ongoing mortgage crisis?

What about Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

What about Change We Can Believe In -- and not More of The Same?

P.S. And let's not confuse criticism of President Obama as some sort of tacit approval for the previous administration and the Evil One, Dick Cheney. It's called dissent. And while Republicans tried to brand it as unpatriotic the past eight years, I hope Dems don't do the same.

Peace, Love and Bobby Sherman.

Sorry, TLTiA, I see that question as irrelevant.

And this is why I find your comments...frustrating. You're writing about Obama as if he were a guy who had total freedom of action; he's not. He's subject to all sorts of institutional constraints. He absolutely needs Senate Dems and they're all pissing their pants at the thought of going on the record to fund closing Gitmo. Now, I don't think this absolves Obama for the wrong things he's doing (starting with preventative detention), but I'm also not going to act surprised when Obama acts as if he were subject to the institutional forces that exist. The President is not superman.

ThatLeftTurn mentioned the home of the brave: this is a complete lie. America is a cowardly nation full of cowards. Every once in a while we do something brave, but in general, cowardice is our national past time. That's why none of our politicians are willing to stand up and say "Folks, you're going to die someday, and some of you might get killed by a terrorist, but we're not going to warp our entire society to minimize the odds of that happening." Saying that is political suicide because Americans are cowards. It is who we are. And because we are cowards, any President is going to have to do all sorts of outrageous immoral stupid things in order to appease this nation of bedwetters.

Obama the constitutional lawyer obviously understands that we let guilty people go free all the time and that there is no actual security problem involved with letting some of the Gitmo detainees go free. This isn't hard. But actually doing that is going to be political suicide. My hunch is that there are bullshit memos explaining how those detainees who were most badly tortured are evil supervillains. I'm guessing that Obama knows that doing the right thing by releasing them guarantees the release of those memos and a political firestorm. I'd guess that he's made the call that keeping a bunch of people unjustly imprisoned indefinitely is worth passing his agenda.

"politics isn't about your ideals; never has been, never will be."

Maybe, maybe not.

If so, then perhaps it would be wise not to campaign on them.

P.S. I think Bobby Kennedy -- for that matter, Ted Kennedy -- would disagree with you.

And Sargent Shriver.

And Russell Feingold.

And Hubert Humphrey.

Jefferson, too.

I'd go on, but the cleaning lady at work is turning off the lights.

Good night, Ruby.

what Warren Terra and Turbulence said.

Obama was never, ever, the guy the that was going to please people who wanted a full rollback of Bush's (and Clinton's, let's face it) boneheaded policies.

the change he offered was a change away from thoughtlessness and incompetence and partisan hackery. if you misunderstood his offer and thought he'd be a benevolent leftist philosopher king, that's your mistake, not his. he's being what he always said he'd be - a no-drama, left-of-center, pragmatist.

maybe it's time we stopped freaking out over the fact that he's not living up to an ideal he never promised he'd be.

Sure, ideals matter. But no matter how lofty a candidate's ideals are, they can't make the rotten reality of American politics vanish with the strength of their purity. Turbulence's explanation seems spot-on to me.

"At what point do we give up blaming the prior administration?"

Until either I or they stop drawing breath.

They've done unbelievable damage to this country, and to the world. It's not about me, or anyone, blaming them. "Blame" here is not a verb, it's a noun, and the thing it names belongs to them.

They earned it honestly.

I'm with Nell and Last Turn, I'd like to see us try these guys in criminal proceedings and live with the consequences, whatever they are.

All we ever did with Galleani was deport him, and the nation survived. If you don't know who I'm talking about, go look it up.

In today's environment, that would be absolute political suicide, so I don't expect to see it happen, and I find that disappointing.

As cleek points out Obama has other things on his mind than my opinion.

It just sucks. And yes, the folks who own the blame for that are Bush, Cheney, and their buddies.

I am among those who think we need an acronym for "What Russell said." And I agree that we can go on assigning blame to the previous administration indefinitely; it's not like they're going to atone, or do anything to help repair the damage.

But even after it should have been "intuitively obvious to the most casual observer" (as my freshman physics professor used to say) how bad they were, [i]they won another term.[/i]

What that says about this country is what scares me the most. It's not just Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and all the rest of the individuals in the administration, it's that even after Abu Graib, among other things, half the country still thought they were just dandy. The polls say the pendulum has swung, but the nature of pendulums is......

wow... is there something screwy going on with comment order? things are appearing in places they didn't seem to be, just a few minutes before.

"P.S. I think Bobby Kennedy -- for that matter, Ted Kennedy -- would disagree with you."

for what it's worth, the "you" in my comment really wasn't directed at you, btfb - that was just a trick of juxtaposition.

but, what about them? did they never do _anything_ that violated _somebody's_ ideals ? were they perfect in every way, to all people, even people who payed close attention and wanted specific things from government ? never comprimised principle for political expediency ?

i doubt it.

To Elf Sternberg -

I seem to remember reading that version of the poem in Mad Magazine many years ago (as in, 25 or so, and it was in a paperback collection of old articles, so you could probably tack on another decade or so to that).

"ThatLeftTurn mentioned the home of the brave: this is a complete lie."

I was describring an aspirational (as in 'how do we get out of this mess'), not an objective reality, so agreed.

'America is a cowardly nation full of cowards. Every once in a while we do something brave, but in general, cowardice is our national past time. That's why none of our politicians are willing to stand up and say "Folks, you're going to die someday, and some of you might get killed by a terrorist, but we're not going to warp our entire society to minimize the odds of that happening." Saying that is political suicide because Americans are cowards. It is who we are. And because we are cowards, any President is going to have to do all sorts of outrageous immoral stupid things in order to appease this nation of bedwetters.'

That pretty much nails it. A nation of bedwetters, indeed. Although apocalyptic fears have been part of American politics since the beginning, it does seem to me that this condition was once not as acute as it is today, and has steadily worsened under the stewardship of the post-1945 national security state.

In some respects I think the small-c conservatives have a valid point about the moral and psychological damage caused by the nanny state. Too bad that the single largest and most fright inducing part of that state (the bit with the guns and bombs) is the one part which they have a gigantic blind spot regarding. It would be nice to have their help in rolling it back (and some like Larison see the problem).

But I do wonder what other longer term processes have led us to this pass. It seems to me that increasing material wealth and greater life spans may play a role in making people more fearful. For example, take a stroll sometime through an 18th or 19th cen. graveyard and look at the headstones, paying attention to the dates of birth and death. I've often thought that people who buried half their children before the age of 10 and themselves expected to live not much past two score years might be made of sterner stuff than we are today.

So too, the consolations of religion and philosophy are notable in their absence today, or are twisted to make people more rather than less afraid. I sometimes wonder if we are currently progressing thru a 21st century version of the millenial hysteria which gripped Europe 1000 years ago.

Whatever the reasons, I wish we would stop it. The ambiance sucks and we're smashing up all the good furniture.

The idea of Bobby Kennedy, in particular, as being a starry-eyed idealist unwilling to cross the bright lines that define the limits of ethical behavior when he actually held any power or responsibility is just ludicrous.

I mean, I only know what I've read and heard, and from all of that I believe that Bobby was a great man, that the accomplishments of his Justice department for civil rights are legendary, and that he was a wonderfully anti-war candidate when his life was cut so cruelly short. And maybe he really had become a completely different person by the time he run for President. But there's plenty of evidence that, however vociferously he may have campaigned on his ideals, in office Bobby Kennedy would - like any good politician - have cut as many deals with the devil as he felt were necessary to achieve what he saw as being the greater good.

"And, finally, on LGBT so far Obama has indeed not done squat, and he hasn't even seemed to offer much."

I certainly didn't expect Obama to do much on LGBT rights. What I expected was for him not to get in the way of the changes that are coming. Not to support things like DOMA or a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. And I still expect that.

In some respects I think the small-c conservatives have a valid point about the moral and psychological damage caused by the nanny state.

I don't know about this; I don't see any evidence that the nanny state per se is the cause. Do we even have a nanny state? I mean, Sweden has a real nanny state, but we've got a meth fueled binge drinking babysitter with a long history of shaken baby syndrome, at least judging by the histories of our foreign policy and criminal justice system.

I've often thought that people who buried half their children before the age of 10 and themselves expected to live not much past two score years might be made of sterner stuff than we are today.

Maybe, but lifespans are higher in Europe and you don't see them suffering from this affliction. I think russell may have hit upon it in a comment at hocb.net; Americans are really really entitled, and that extends to safety. They're unwilling to tolerate risk, and so they insist on increasing risk. Or maybe it all boils down to American exceptionalism: if you think that Americans are uniquely awesome, then it follows that everyone else on Earth is a lesser other, and since they are not as enlightened as you and are the other, they're probably coming to kill you or take your stuff. After all, they hate us for our freedom.

//But what's wrong voting for an ideal? Especially when the candidate presents it in such a bright shiny package.//

If it appears that the candidate believes the ideal will happen then you know he is a fool.

//What about putting a priority on helping homeowners//

Instead of that let's put a priority on rule of law. Existing contract law handles all this stuff just fine.

I like Russell's response to OCSteve's plaintive question. But I offer a slightly different answer: I will stop blaming Dick and Dubya when even OCSteve feels too embarassed to ask the question.

I have harped on this before, and I do so again. Cheney matters for the same reason that Jesus matters and Zeus doesn't: Christians are numerous and Hellenistic Polytheists are few, nowadays. Cheney matters because at least some Americans take him seriously. Cheney would be as irrelevant as Zeus, if nobody bought into his myth. In short, Cheney is not the problem.

To be fair, OCS does NOT offer any explicit defense of Dick and Dubya, but merely criticism of Obama. He does come off like one of the more dour Old Testament prophets condemning worshippers of false idols. I take some offense at that, for I worship nobody, least of all the first President in my lifetime who is younger than I am. Still, if it makes OCS feel better to pretend that Democrats are as slavishly devoted to Obama as Republicans were to Dubya (and still are to The Gipper), who am I to deprive him of his comforting fantasy?

But I have to say to OCS that today, Cheney made me understand why I have spent a lifetime siding with the Democrats: because Republicans have made a life's work out of insulting my intelligence. Despite his faults, Obama at least tries not to do that.

--TP

//America is a cowardly nation full of cowards. Every once in a while we do something brave, but in general, cowardice is our national past time. That's why none of our politicians are willing to stand up and say "Folks, you're going to die someday, and some of you might get killed by a terrorist, but we're not going to warp our entire society to minimize the odds of that happening."//

Yet many of them (and you folks) will vote wholeheartedly to warp our entire society to avoid a few degrees of increased temperature. (climate).

"Oh but that is different. And you're derailing. And you're a troll. And you don't spell well."

//In some respects I think the small-c conservatives have a valid point about the moral and psychological damage caused by the nanny state. Too bad that the single largest and most fright inducing part of that state (the bit with the guns and bombs) is the one part which they have a gigantic blind spot regarding. It would be nice to have their help in rolling it back (and some like Larison see the problem).//

I (and i'm sure many other small c types) would gladly join up with the social freedom/lgbt types to form a new dominant paradigm if the social freedom/lgbt types would separate from the economic socialists and environmental nazis on the left.

// I've often thought that people who buried half their children before the age of 10 and themselves expected to live not much past two score years might be made of sterner stuff than we are today.//

Not sterner stuff. Just that we are aware that dying at 25 throws away 60 more pretty good years while they calculated that they were only throwing away 15 more probably difficult years.

d'd'd'dave, re your 11:41 and 11:52, I'm not going to call you a "troll", I didn't notice any glaring spelling errors, and I'd ask just who are these "environmental nazis" of whom you write, and do you honestly believe that anyone remotely deserving of such a description has any more influence on our society than, say, nazi nazis do. Still, I'd like to take issue with your comments where you write:

||
Yet many of them (and you folks) will vote wholeheartedly to warp our entire society to avoid a few degrees of increased temperature.(climate).

"Oh but that is different. And you're derailing. And you're a troll. And you don't spell well."
||


Darn tooting I'll say that's different: In fact, I'll argue that it's different in at least three ways.

First, in that people concerned about climate change are proposing to change our society's economic and lifestyle priorities without totally transforming our society rather than to abrogate the concept of due process on which are society is based and to threaten the basic protections afforded to people.

And second, in that the threat of climate change is far more likely to affect each person on this globe than is that of a few terrorists (and contrary to what I take to be your implication "a few degrees" is no small beer in its effects on the icecaps, weather patterns, epidemic disease, and agriculture).

And the third and perhaps most important difference is that that the response to anthropogenic climate change is far more correctly targeted than the response to terrorism that people in this thread have been criticizing. CO2 emissions are warming our climate; hence people propose to reduce CO2 emissions, and to do this by applying the market force of, in one way or another, taxing carbon emissions. The connection there is far more direct than the connection between "an unknown number of murderous radicals want to kill us" and "we should detain without habeas rights, torture detainees, wiretap without oversight, and in other ways forfeit the protections of due process and individual liberty". I, for one, can imagine methods to counter the threat of terrorism that do not transgress our nation's ideals. Barring science-fictional power sources suddenly appearing, I do not see a feasible way of reducing the effect of CO2 emissions without reducing CO2 emissions.

"... vote wholeheartedly to warp our entire society to avoid a few degrees of increased temperature."

Do you somehow imagine that those "few degrees of increased temperature" are *not* going to warp our entire society to a much greater extent than anything being proposed by the evil Democrats?

Warren

// I'd ask just who are these "environmental nazis" of whom you write, and do you honestly believe that anyone remotely deserving of such a description has any more influence on our society than, say, nazi nazis do.//

Environmental nazis are very prevalent and influential in local land use matters. I have a local loony-fringe city council person to deal with who believes that any new Green trend she reads about absolutely must be showcased in our town first.

// rather than to abrogate the concept of due process on which are society is based and to threaten the basic protections afforded to people.//

Two subtle local pushes are being made by environmentalists. One is that new developments be required to show that greenhouse gas emissions will not be increased by our projects. Another is that there will be sufficient water to support the project for the next 30 years. Both seem innocent enough. But they are not. There is no ghg accounting system in place. How much of an increase in ghg is caused by using 5,000 board feet of lumber? Trees are killed. Fuel was used in the transport. The house will use energy for years. How much ghg is produced to energize the houses? As for the water. Until now it has been sufficient to get a will-serve letter from the water agency. The water agency has documentation supporting their ability to provide water. Now the entire watershed and all future development therein must be considered. My watershed covers at least 10,000 square miles and includes many cities, counties, water districts and industries. No comprehensive water study exists. No comprehensive 'general growth plan' exists for that area. Even if there were such things both would be held hostage to some high political commission that would set 'development growth' and 'water availability' assumptions that would go into the studies.

The bottom line is that if either of these goes through one would take a tremendous risk trying to get a large project approved using a neg dec. EIR's would be easily assailable as inadequate. The first full study would cost many many millions.

So. One will be able to say due process still exists. But a few litigative environmental nazis would be able to stop all development by challenging EIRs which will be easily assailable because the raw data just does not exist.

OCSteve: At what point do we give up blaming the prior administration?

At about the same time you give up blaming al-Qaeda for 9/11. Or rather, after the same time lapse.

When was that? Serious question: if you feel that blaming people for what they did should lapse a certain amount of time afterwards - presumably, you have long since quit blaming al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden for the terrorist attack on the US on September 11. When did you stop feeling that al-Qaeda/bin Laden were to blame?

So if we already let garden variety murderers, etc. walk, why can't we live with letting some of the Gitmo folks go even if we know that they will try to make us regret it later.

This perfectly encapsulates the ridiculousness of the "need" for "indefinite preventive detention". But to go a step further... how many others outside of our "detention facilities" have been driven to take up arms by our torture and abuse of these "detainees"? How many more will be radicalized when we glibly throw them in a cage and declare we don't exactly ever plan to release them? Will more or less unknown fighters and terrorists arise from our continued abuse and martyring of these "detainees"? Will the unknown radicals be more or less effective than the known, out-of-the-loop, monitored, and quite possibly psychologically wrecked "detainees" who we daren't ever let breathe free air again?

So there's, say, a couple hundred broken, bitter, resentful victims locked up. Turn 'em loose. Even if recidivism* proves to be 100%, they're only human, and after the horrors we visited on some of them, they may not even be stable, competent humans. And we know who they are. The idea that they're somehow more dangerous at this point than the radicals their abuse has (and will) spawn, to say nothing of the damage done (and to be further done) to American laws and society, is laughable.

*Pretending, of course, that all of those still "detained" were guilty of the charges brought against - erm, did what we were kinda sorta told they did.

"Environmental nazis are very prevalent and influential in local land use matters. "

ANd these "environmental nazis," they round up developers and ship them off to extermination camps, do they?

“I'm with Nell and Last Turn, I'd like to see us try these guys in criminal proceedings and live with the consequences, whatever they are.”

I’m fine with that. The big O is not…


“Obama has banned torture, he has banned extraordinary rendition, and he has reiterated his determination to close Gitmo in the face of a 90-6 Senate vote against closing Gitmo any time soon. So unless you've got some evidence you haven't provided you're not right on anything in your first paragraph.”

Banned torture? As in a new commission to decide when interrogators may need to go beyond the Army Field Manual?

Banned extraordinary rendition?
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/01/nation/na-rendition1

Many folks here like Greenwald so I’ll just cite him:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/02/10/obama/index.html

GG again on military commissions:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/05/15/military_commissions/

“determination to close Gitmo”- well, I’m “determined” to be a millionaire… Senate Dems aren’t likely to support me on that either.

“war on drugs” – I agree there are hopeful signs there.

“maybe it's time we stopped freaking out over the fact that he's not living up to an ideal he never promised he'd be.”

Except that he did promise. The entire campaign…

“I will stop blaming Dick and Dubya when even OCSteve feels too embarassed to ask the question.”

To restate it then – at what point do you (general you) start holding the new administration accountable? Just give me a ballpark – one year, two? Second term?

“Still, if it makes OCS feel better to pretend that Democrats are as slavishly devoted to Obama as Republicans were to Dubya (and still are to The Gipper), who am I to deprive him of his comforting fantasy?”

Dude:
http://conservativepilgrim.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/obama_noland_poster.jpg

No answer from you about when you stopped blaming Osama bin Laden/al-Qaeda for 9/11, OCSteve? It must have happened some years ago, since you feel that four months is time enough to stop blaming George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for legalising torture and opening American prison camps.

(Not that I don't find it deeply ironic that, yes: Obama is following seamlessly in Bush's footsteps, as began to become clear from November 22 2008, and as has become increasingly clear ever since, and yet the same people who asserted they had a perfectly non-partisan objection to torture and extrajudicial imprisonment are somehow consistently managing to overlook Obama's clear intentions and actions.)

"Yet many of them (and you folks) will vote wholeheartedly to warp our entire society to avoid a few degrees of increased temperature. "

From your other comments here, what I take away from this is that environmental wackos are making it harder for you to get development projects approved.

I'll bet that's true. So what?

You're not the only guy living on the planet, dave.

And yeah, "nazi" might be just a little over the top.

"Except that he did promise. The entire campaign"

no, he didn't. we've been over this before.

he never made himself out to be the guy who was going to march into DC and start authorizing "Truth Commissions", ordering prosecutions, and all the other things people have been demanding. when asked, he deferred. when pressed, he eluded. he was never going to be that guy. neither was HRC. obviously not McCain, either.

we were having this conversation before Obama was even elected - people were shocked and angry when they learned that Obama wasn't really interested in pushing for impeachment or prosecution. he's always been a pragmatic incrementalist.

"at what point do you (general you) start holding the new administration accountable?"

Now.

"he's always been a pragmatic incrementalist."

I think that's exactly right.

And every time I get pissed at how unsatisfactory I find anything he does, I imagine McCain/Palin and I give thanks that Obama's in office.

Just logged back on after a sleepless night worrying about finances and I see there is a good bit of housekeeping to do.

First a couple of quick hits since I don't believe in leaving questions hanging.

"did they never do _anything_ that violated _somebody's_ ideals?"

Of course, somewhere along the line, they did, and more than once.

"were they perfect in every way, to all people, even people who payed close attention and wanted specific things from government?"

See the last answer. (Fwiw, even Lincoln wasn't perfect.)

"never compromised principle for political expediency?"

Sure. Compromise is essential, in politics, as in life.

My point in response to yours -- "that politics isn't about your ideals; never has been, never will be" -- that the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, Hubert Humphrey, Jefferson would disagree with you still stands.

Jefferson and the Founding Fathers built this country on ideals, along with being great pragmatists, and as starry-eyed as it might seem, those that followed -- Kennedy, Humphrey, Feingold -- were/are great idealists.

In response to Warren Terra, Bobby Kennedy was indeed a work in progress, "seeing the light," as it were, as his political career evolved. Sure, he could be a brassknuckle pol, all the better to push what he believed in (so could Shriver, but he pushed his ideals with a hard-to-turn-down charm and a seldom-seen persistence). I'd like to see more of this from President Obama, especially given his overwhelming popularity ratings.

In the campaign, Obama showed a tremendous pragmatic and cautious side, as cleek notes, and he has carried that into his presidency. But I think it would be disingenuous to suggest the man who inspired millions of voters -- many of whom had never been involved in the process before -- did not offer something bigger.

Have we already forgotten the great speech he gave on race? Or the wonderful spectacle that was Berlin?

I guess being a liberal I hoped for more (alas, I should have listened to Nell more). But you take what you can get, and getting a Democrat back in the White House was a great start.

Hope some of this addressed very legitimate points that Turb raised in his 9:24 posting from lat night.

P.S. I think we should not totally write off OCSteve's complaint about endlessly blaming Bush-Cheney. Half of Obama's speech yesterday was about, as he called it, the mess the last administration left him. But at a certain point every president must take ownership for what happens on his watch. Furthermore, if we keep going back to "it was Bush's fault," doesn't that serve as a kind of distraction in an attempt to move the ball forward -- after all, this is the same logic Obama, the pragmatist, keeps using as the reason he is not all gung-ho on pushing torture prosecutions.


Read this before bed last night -- Getting to Know Obama -- which seemed to tie-in to much of what we were discussing yesterday.

"he's being what he always said he'd be - a no-drama, left-of-center, pragmatist."

"he's always been a pragmatic incrementalist."

Obama

One of these things is not like the others...

we've been over this before.

Indeed. 'Bout a year back the solid leftists were decrying Obama for him just being him, an unprincipled center-right - oh, excuse me, a pragmatic moderate politician,and you were telling us we needed to sit down, shut up, drink the Dem Kool-Aid, and stifle all criticism of Obama, because not only was he the best we could get, he was the best we should get, and how dare us DFH undermine left-wing solidarity by demanding he moderate his pragmatic acquiescence to center-right American exceptionalist business-as-usual corporatist politics?

Plus ça change...

God bless Dick Cheney. God bless his family.

Yes, and the hundreds of thousands of folks whose death and ruin he caused.

"God bless Dick Cheney. God bless his family."

But don't let his daughter marry her partner. God doesn't want her to.

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