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February 04, 2010

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It's amazing how much power we've ceded to Osama bin Laden, and how we let al-Qaeda and its pathetic offshoots completely warp our foundational principles of justice and the rule of law.

Eh, I doubt OBL can make us do anything that we don't really want to do anyway. The truth is that most Americans reject the values this country was based on. Or at least don't understand them. That's why the First Amendment could never make it past a referendum today, to say nothing of the fifth.

OBL is like tequila in that regard. He can't make you grope your wife's sister unless you've been wanting to do so long before he showed up.

Certainly true in some instances, but not all. There are a lot of people who just let fear get the better of them, and are stuck in that mindset.

I'm not sure why one would treat this as a new phenomenon. America's experience with (and demonizing of) anarchists, the internment of Japanese-Americans (to the point that orphaned infants were sent to internment camps) to the Communist witch hunts suggest that this is a recurring problem in the American experience. As a matter of practicality, I wonder how the constant claiming that we are better than this, when we clearly have fallen short so many times before, can be considered to be an effective strategy. I suppose that there are ew alternatives, but after the umpteenth iteration of 'we are better than that' comes down the pike, it really tends to lose impact.

True in some respect LJ, but at the very least it should be pointed out that our ideals and principles say one thing, and we do another. So whether or not we are, in practice, always better, we are supposed to be. We have something to live up to, especially because, more than aspirationally, we act as if we are better.

I don't think it's new or unprecedented, or that most of the response is really a threat to the Republic or whatever. There are two things that are very upsetting and disappointing, though, and those are torture and the Iraq War.

Everything else is comparatively trivial stuff and part of the expected back-and-forth in civil liberties, but the expression of belief in the right to engage in unprovoked warfare is extremely dangerous, and though not unprecedented, is very much out of step with where the rest of the world is going. Some days I think Colin Powell did us all an enormous favor in giving his BS presentation at the UN, because even though it was BS, at least we didn't set the precedent of the President completely ignoring the UN to go to war. Which I think was quite likely otherwise.

And torture, well, what can you even say. Those two things did more damage to the national security of the US than anything since Vietnam. The US global military hegemony is stable and accepted only because the US has not, since WWII, engaged in totally unprovoked offensive wars and generally has adhered to reasonably high standards for human rights. Undermining that so captain codpiece could demonstrate his macho credentials was a gigantic mistake.

Yeah, I'm not meaning to slam you, it's just that the narrative of 'we are better than that' is just like a one note symphony. I'm not sure what would be better, but the point just hit a sore spot this morning (probably because my 5 year old has an earache and all my plans for getting stuff done today just went down the tubes)

Well, of course, if you refer to your political opponents as "captain codpiece" and accuse them of endangering America to assuage their own psychological inadequacies, you must not be surprised when they accuse you of being soft on terrorism.

Am I the only one who thinks "assassination" is kind of a loaded word here? I'm not exactly following this stuff to the letter, but as far as I can tell, no one's talking about snipers shooting guys through windows in Omaha, it seems more like they're talking about military strikes abroad.

Brien,
Im not sure why snipers shooting through windows in, say, Saudi Arabia is not assassination. "Assassination" is not a location-dependent word.

"It's amazing how much power we've ceded to Osama bin Laden, and how we let al-Qaeda and its pathetic offshoots completely warp our foundational principles of justice and the rule of law."

We were willing to do quite a bit of Constitution trampling in a panic over corporations around here just last week. ;)

Panic happens. What you do afterward is what's important.

y81, so you're saying that calling your opponents "soft on terrorism" is just a natural reaction to being mocked for being the fools you are?

We were willing to do quite a bit of Constitution trampling in a panic over corporations around here just last week. ;)

Because the right of corporations to get into power the government they prefer is exactly as important as the right of a real live person who's being a real bloody nuisance to the government nonetheless not to be murdered at the whim of the President.

Nice to know, at last, that every single post you made claiming to be pro-life was nothing but pure, rank hypocrisy, Sebastian. Unless you were secretly writing in defense of not aborting corporations. :-)

Huh?

Great.
Just freaking great.

So, um, what the hell does a person DO, confronted with this outrage? Mount a political opposition and have the party in power thrown from office? We JUST DID THAT, it doesn't seem to have taken.


Sebastian:

"We were willing to do quite a bit of Constitution trampling in a panic over corporations around here just last week. ;)"

Technically, we were willing to advocate amending our capital-C Constitution to bring it into line with what has been for a century our little-c constitution. That's hardly the same deal.

Umm, no. There wasn't much talk about amending the constitution.

There was plenty of talk about restricting political speech because it was too dangerous though. And it was in pretty much the same apocolyptic tone.

There was plenty of talk about restricting [the right to buy elections] because it was too dangerous though.

Fixed that for you. Speech does not equal money: the right to buy elections is neither democratic nor anything to do with free speech.

It is interesting, isn't it, that with the enthusiastic support of so many right-wing Americans, foreign corporations will have their rights more tenderly cared for than mere US citizens.

Don't get distracted by Sebastian's tu quoque, folks. Eyes on the topic.

I tend to think of it as correcting an error, Phil. I won't correct Jesurgislac's error-in-brackets, because it's pretty transparently not true.

Which is wierd, coming from someone who constantly berates me for unclear, inaccurate speech.

I won't correct Jesurgislac's error-in-brackets, because it's pretty transparently not true.

"The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are persons and that money is speech and that, therefore, corporations have a greater right to free speech than other, mortal persons with actual mouths but not as much money. These poorer, merely human persons also don't get to enjoy the apparently divine right of limited liability." - Slacktivist being transparent...

Which is wierd, coming from someone who constantly berates me for unclear, inaccurate speech.

And yet, though you disagree with my bracketed correction of Sebastian's lazy equation of money with speech, you understood what I meant well enough to assert that it wasn't true. Which is the key advantage of writing clearly...

Ah: saying what you don't mean as an assertion of something else, yet to be defined, epitomizes writing clarity.

Good to know.

This is why it's so sad that the Dems are spineless. As usual, the (arguably insane, out-of-power) GOP sets up the goalposts. WTF?

Ah: saying what you don't mean as an assertion of something else, yet to be defined, epitomizes writing clarity.

I have no idea what you mean by that. Can you clarify?

Sorry guys but I have to go with LJ on this. In fact I think our 'American exceptionalism' actually allows us to do some pretty crappy stuff. IE. we don't 'torture' because when we do it, it's not 'torture', when others do, it is. This has been a problem since this country was started and has allowed us to think of ourselves as better than others when we obviously aren't. We have a problem confusing the aspiration of being right, to actually being right, and we fail a lot, and refuse to recognise that failure.

rdldot:

I'm not sure there is really a disagreement worthy of taking sides.

We have a problem confusing the aspiration of being right, to actually being right, and we fail a lot, and refuse to recognise that failure.

Absolutely. My point is merely that we have set forth a set of principles, and ideals, and it is incumbent upon us to live up to them. Saying that we don't always live up to those ideals is not a counterargument.

I'm all for replacing "this is beneath us" with "this is wrong." (Really, if it were beneath us, it would be because it was wrong, anyway, so it's a more fundamental argument.)

In any case, I don't think many of us disagree that there has to be push-back of some sort whenever we, as a country, get our authoritarian undies in a wad. Unopposed force resulting in acceleration and all.

When ever I hear Conservatives talk their view on terrorism it always bring up the scene in the movie "Little Big Man" when just before the Battle of the Little Big Horn General Custer asks Dustin Hoffman's character what he should do and Little Big Man thinks to himself "I've got him now". Replace Dustin Hoffman with Osama Bin Laden and Custer our Conservative geniuses.

We were willing to do quite a bit of Constitution trampling in a panic over corporations around here just last week.

I agree- your position that corporations are indistinguishable from citizens is trampling on the Constitution (certainly at a minimum, it's unsupportable from an Originalist standpoint). But I think your position was held in good faith, whereas allowing the extrajudicial killing of citizens by Presidential fiat is without reservation incompatible with the existing Constitution.
You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Not all Constitutional disagreements are 'trampling'.

Absolutely. My point is merely that we have set forth a set of principles, and ideals, and it is incumbent upon us to live up to them. Saying that we don't always live up to those ideals is not a counterargument.

Furthermore, while it's important to recognize where we haven't lived up to our ideals, many Americans aren't aware of or prefer not to focus on those issues.
Saying "this is beneath us" plays along with American self-stereotypes, as opposed to working against them. Although I can see the argument for injecting more truth into the discussion, I also think it might make it less effective on the general public.

Erik: Saying that we don't always live up to those ideals is not a counterargument.

Well I wasn't really trying to make a counterargument. More like trying to point out that our reaction re:OBL should surprise no one.
And that our experimentation in 'American Exceptionalism' is pretty much a failure, but that's not directed at anything you or anyone else here said. That's just me venting.

"What's more amazing is that the people that are in the biggest hurry to grant Osama the most power over reshaping our society are the ones who claim the mantle of being "tough" on terror."

And those same people would often be quick to *claim* that they're willing to die to protect their country and Constitution.

But when it comes right down to it, they're quick to sacrifice the Constitution in fear that they might die.

This is really just a consequence of the Republican's choice twentysome years back of applying no hold barred emotional marketing techniques to advanace their agenda. It is very effective, but essentially turns politics into a race to the bottom. We shouldn't be at all surprised that the Overton window is shifting out into the twilight zone. Thats what unrestrained emotional marketing will do.

Looks like there doesn't have to be any investigation to begin the prosecutions for torture: just an indictment.

Dick Cheney confesses on air

Of course, Cheney's presumably pretty confident that no one in authority is actually about to enforce the law (Section 2340A of the federal criminal code) against him - what, the former Vice President of the United States actually do time for a felony he has openly confessed he committed? Cheney's sufficiently powerful he can get drunk and shoot a friend in the face, and have the White House press secretary blame the friend for getting in the way of being shot... so why should he expect to see any trouble for having the US military torture prisoners?

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