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Paint CHiPs
Smartest Man in the World

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Your Sullivan of the Day

I've no problem fessing up to the fact that Andrew Sullivan mirrors my own views on most topics more than anybody else I can think of offhand. It's sort of an open joke at this point, given how often I quote him. He's by no means perfect. He has a mostly deserved reputation for falling ocassionaly into nancyboy rose-tinted triumphmentalism or bleak dramaqueening (depending on the issue or your POV), and I personally find he sometimes backslides into stodgy reflexiveness, particularly on things like the Middle East or liberalism (the former he can come positively unhinged about in the "good/evil moral threat to the world" vien, the latter is a case of returning to old reflexes--common to a lot of paleocon or libertarian-leaning people that came of age politically in the Reagan years or the ensuing Republican takeover of the early 90s--that tends to massively overblow the threat of "East coast liberals" and "university intellectuals" and "anti-Christian secularists" and blah blah blah). But, on the plus side, I find him to be a like-minded mix of social liberalism, old skool conservatism, and a deeply rooted personal faith, and on certain topics he can cut through the fog with a non-partisan lucidity, particularly on the most polarized topics, that I find immensely refreshing.

He's been particularly good on the torture issue, the ideological decline of the Republican party, and (after the first two years of almost crazed absolutism, triumphmentalism, and romantization on par with Powerline and FreeRepublic) the war in Iraq.

Massive unecessary lead-in aside, he posted two bits today that really stuck with me, and that I thought deserved their own thread. Maybe I'll post more here as I come across them (though resisting a Sullivan-blog-rehash thread, because really, just read the blog). The first is on torture, the second on the NIE about Iraq and the War on Terror. Anyway, another thing I like about Sullivan is, like the best political writers, he's not writing to obfuscate or hedge or muddle. I like reading him even where I disagree because it helps clarify my own thinking.




"Walking Back" on "Tyranny"?

27 Sep 2006 04:12 pm

Late last night, before nodding off, I wondered, as I often do, whether I'd hyperbolized the threat from the looming detention-torture bill. "Legalizing tyranny" is a very strong phrase and I don't want to cry wolf. In the sense that this president intends to seize random Americans and rush them into black sites and torture them at will, it's hyperbole. But in a deeper sense, I think it's completely accurate. The system we're talking about is to do with wartime. A president in the past has had the option of seizing enemy combatants on a battlefield and detaining them without charge as POWs. There's no threat to liberty there. What's new is that in this war, enemy combatants have been designated as such not just on the battlefield - but anywhere in the world. What's new is that they are no longer entitled to POW status. What's new is that this war is for ever. So any changes are not just for a time-limited emergency but threaten to alter basic balances in constitutional order. What's also new is that torture is now allowed on the down-low, on the president's authority. And what's also new is that an enemy combatant may or may not be an American citizen.

Put all that together and you really do have the danger of taking emergency measures for wartime and transforming a peace-time constitution into an essentially martial system, where every citizen or non-citizen can be apprehended at will and detained without charge. I repeat: this is a huge deal. It really should be a huge deal for conservatives who care about restraining government power. Its vulnerability to abuse is enormous; sanctioned torture, history tells us, never remains hermetically sealed. It always spreads. It eats away at decency and law and civility. If the president sincerely believes that torture is our most potent weapon in this war, and that habeas corpus is a quaint relic from the past, then we are in far greater peril than even the most dire pessimists believe.




I'd add that the other thing history teaches us is that power, once given away, is rarely voluntarily returned by anything short of armed revolution. Government just as a generalized entity doesn't tend to shrink its power...the opposite is borne out again and again, the more they're given the more they expand and take away. If a negotiated giving up of freedom is just barely okay, wait awhile--in a generation or two you'll barely recognize it for how much the stain has spread.

Next, on the NIE:




The NIE

27 Sep 2006 11:59 am

It's an excruciating read. Here's my summary: we've made real progress against the organized professional leadership of al Qaeda. Everywhere else, we've lost ground. One reason we've lost ground - both strategically, ideologically and politically - is because of the bungled war in Iraq, which has produced the worst of all worlds: an ineffective occupation that doesn't bring democracy, has turned the image of the U.S. into Abu Ghraib, and has inspired many more decentralized and dangerous Jihadists across the globe. As a supporter of the war in Iraq, it's clear that over three years later, it has spawned more terrorism, and is now causing more innocent deaths on a daily basis than Saddam's vile regime. Whether this was inevitable or a function of the way it was conducted will be debated for decades. But this much we know: it was conducted dreadfully anyway, on the cheap, and without even minimal strategic intelligence and care. At this point in time, there's no way to spin this except as a fiasco that has obviously made us less safe right now and in the immediate future. The only arguments the Bush administration has left is that in 2050, historians may regard it as a turning point, and that leaving now would be even worse. The first argument is pathetic; the second argument is true but only underscores their unforgivable recklessness.

The NIE further concludes that our continued ineffective presence in Iraq is spawning more terrorism, and that our departure would also be a huge morale boost to the Jihadists and foment even more hell. Great. (What the war has done to increase Iran's power and potential danger is not addressed in the sections I've read. But it surely adds to the negatives.) What's clear to me is that we therefore have a gamble ahead of us: do we withdraw from Iraq in some way - either completely or to Kurdish areas - or do we seriously try and get the occupation right? At this point, I'd say the argument is very finely balanced. Obviously, the first step must be to get rid of the people so far responsible for the Iraq disaster. Until Rumsfeld is dismissed, we have no hope for any improvement. General Casey needs to be fired as well, along with several other military leaders who have presided over this mess. For the first time in this administration, we need some accountability. Then we have a decision to make. Do we have the troops necessary to make this work? Or do we not? If we need a draft, do we have the guts to say so and debate it?

My own view is that we should either drastically up the ante in Iraq - by adding tens of thousands of new troops in a serious, concerted attempt to provide order for the first time; or we should withdraw. Anything in between continues the same worst-of-all-worlds nightmare. We knew occupying a Muslim country would be a very high-risk venture. Which is why it had to be done with overwhelming force, meticulous planning, and an equally painstaking political strategy for the aftermath. We know now that Rumsfeld and Cheney just wanted to bomb the crap out of the place to prove they had more testosterone than the Democrats and to scare a few leaders in the Middle East. But the time for their amateurism is over. Either get serious or leave, guys. And make up your mind soon.




This, in particular, stuck with me today, because I think it finally gets it right. I've been torn on the "cut and run" thing because I don't necessarily see the democratization of Iraq as an unworthy goal, not in the least, and I resist the notion of just saying "fuck it" and pull it out. But, if opponents of guys like Murtha (who actually DOES have a pretty clear and detailed strategic plan, which has since been adopted by a great many Democrats) want to unfairly paint the alternative choice as "no ideas but 'cut and run'", they're setting up a false choice, because "stay the course" is a pretty ridiculous and patently unworkable choice either. The current plan for Iraq (the Bush plan) is almost CERTAINLY a variation of "cut and run", no matter how they'll eventually try to spin it. The choice really is going to be as Sullivan lays it out there. For those that are really invested in "getting it right" with Iraq, the choice is certainly NOT "stay the course"--the course is unsustainable, and won't lead to anything close to the goals they're espousing, and in practical reality will just lead to a more messy eventual "cut and run" as we get sick of Iraq and Iraq gets sick of us and we leave it infinitely worse off than we found it. The choice is either get serious, which would entail a massive EXPANSION of the course, or it's a controlled strategic withdrawl. The Democrats at least have the balls and strategic assessment (Kerry and Feingold just released a big Middle East plan, btw) to call for the latter--does the pro-war crowd have the balls to call for the former? That's only half-facetious: to tell the truth, I might even be able to get on board if they did. But if they don't, why should we take them at all seriously when they talk about being serious about Iraq? If they're just flag-waving and shooting off at the mouth until the last two years of Bush when he tries to basically coopt the Democratic position under cover of a bunch of patriot porn rhetoric (or certainly that'll be the next president's job)...well, it's sort of hard to give them much creedence. That's part of why the "Democrats don't have a plan" charge has no resonance with me. Sullivan nails it.

John Kerry, of all people, does too. Here's a statement regarding Lieberman (who took a swipe at him recently).

quote:

"Iraq has been a national security disaster and a terrible set-back in the war on terror. As Robert Kennedy said of Vietnam, there is enough blame to go around. We must all accept our responsibility to change course. We don't need misleading speeches. We don't need slogans. We need leaders who will tell it straight and stand up to this administration and say it's time to change course. Ned Lamont is providing that kind of leadership.

Senator Lieberman and I disagree deeply and profoundly on Iraq. No matter how much Senator Lieberman pretends otherwise, as we were debating a Senate resolution to change course on Iraq, our intelligence agencies were telling this Administration that America is less safe and more endangered by terrorists because of the failed stay-the-course policies in Iraq. There's just no excuse for continuing the old line that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror when in fact we know Iraq is a recruiting poster for terrorists while the real war on terror in Afghanistan spirals downwards.

The maxim that we'll stand down as Iraqis stand up is a myth. We need a deadline for the redeployment of American troops to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. Aimless talk of stay the course is making things worse. Every time the Administration says we'll stay as long as it takes is an excuse for Iraqis to take as long as they want. We are stuck in a growing civil war that sets us back in the war on terror. It does a disservice to our troops to stick with a broken policy over and over again and expect different results. We need leadership with the courage to change course."


And here's the Fiengold-Kerry amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, from a couple of months ago. You can hunt around and find a copy of Murtha's much more detailed proposal too, if you look. And, the NIE is all over the place too (both of them), and is more or less everything Sully says it is.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Yours?

TT, you can save the smart-ass comments: making a joke about me quoting Sullivan in a thread about me quoting Sullivan is sort of half-assed even for you.

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Old Post 09-27-2006 11:25 PM
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CHiPsJr
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McCain's plan is the reasonable alternative in terms of conducting a successful occupation. But with each passing day it grows a bit less practiceable.

It is very hard for me to see what good the Kerry/Feingold scheme will accomplish. Among other things, it will constitute an even worse betrayl of Kurdistan than the one following the first Iraq war.

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Old Post 09-27-2006 11:37 PM
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Paint CHiPs
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I believe a big part of the redeployment would be to Kurdish areas.


quote:

WaPo--A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.

In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.


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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:14 AM
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Trenchant_Troll
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Hey, if they want us out, I am all for leaving. The last thing I want to do is get in the way of peace-loving Mulsims that wanna slaughter one another. If this poll is accurate, let's get out of that baboon stew and let it burn to the bottom.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:21 AM
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Smug Git
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They want to split the country up and divvy up the oil (Sunnis probable losers there). We don't want the country split up, keeping it together was one of our war objectives.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:27 AM
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Paint CHiPs
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quote:
Originally posted by CHiPsJr

It is very hard for me to see what good the Kerry/Feingold scheme will accomplish.



But, more to the point, what it would accomplish is, ideally, a foisted Iraqi responsibility for their own country (conservatives who used to rail on what happens when Big Government hands out welfare to people should intuitively understand this), a maintained but relatively unobtrusive American diplomatic and strategic presence (including military protection of the Kurds), and a wider, more smartly focused net for the War on Terror that attempts to look beyond grandiose frames of the "future of the region" and false Gods of freedom and security, and instead deals with the issue in a focused, intelligent way.

Part of what Sullivan is saying, though, and what I agree with, is it's long past time that we saddle up to the realization that there are no longer "good" options--maybe there never were, but certainly there hasn't been for the last couple of years. Every potential scenario is, at this point, wraught with potential problems. The realization, though, is that what's required is a sober assesment, strategic decisions, and most importantly a realization that "staying the course" or biding our time or holding our position until such a time as a perfect solution comes along is simply no longer viable. As you said, even the not great solutions become less workable with each passing week, and the deterioration of the situation is such that we can no longer afford to twiddle our thumbs protecting our domestic or international asses and holding out for a blue fairy. We're making things infinitely worse--and making any potential solutions infinitely more problematic--the longer we do that.

That's not to say throw them to the wolves and leave, though, and the characterization of what might be the most viable alternative proposition as such, out of hand, makes the debate even more difficult to slough through. Since it's a debate that badly needs to happen, and to happen seriously, we're doing a further disservice in boiling it down to hollow moral platitudes and thumb-twiddling at best, and partisan rancor to cover up a lack of strategic direction at worst.

I'm willing to seriously consider the idea that what needs to happen is a massive EXPANSION of our efforts in Iraq, and I more or less have been all along. I'm inclined against it, but it's a viable alternative, I think. I'm not seeing that seriously proposed by anybody. If the alternatives are strategic redeployment (which would necessarily include imminent military protection of Kurdistan), or trying to wish things better until such time as the current party in power feels they have sufficient domestic political cover to 'throw them to the wolves', the former is looking better and better every day.

Last edited by Paint CHiPs on 09-28-2006 at 12:35 AM

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:31 AM
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SimpleSimon
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quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
They want to split the country up and divvy up the oil (Sunnis probable losers there). We don't want the country split up, keeping it together was one of our war objectives.

In the end, it won't matter much what we want of them, if they continue to resist. We either conqueor them utterly, or we leave and they settle their own shit. We will not do the former, so we might as well let them get on with the latter.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:33 AM
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Trenchant_Troll
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quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
They want to split the country up and divvy up the oil (Sunnis probable losers there). We don't want the country split up, keeping it together was one of our war objectives.


Not mine. I just wanted to see if we could bring them into the 19th century.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:34 AM
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BROKEN_LADDER
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Re: Your Sullivan of the Day

quote:
Originally posted by Paint CHiPs
I've no problem fessing up to the fact that Andrew Sullivan mirrors my own views on most topics more than anybody else I can think of offhand. It's sort of an open joke at this point, given how often I quote him. He's by no means perfect.


I saw him on Real Time with Bill Maher awhile back, and thought he came off like a bumbling moron. He had an hour to say one meaningful sentence, and failed miserably. I love how Maher poked fun of him for being gay and professing Republicanism, which instead of giving any logical response to, he just laughed off. Yeah, that seemed to be his style the whole way through. Hopefully his writing turns out to be better. So far I'm underwhelmed.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:35 AM
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Paint CHiPs
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Funny you say that: I've never liked him on TV appearances either. He reverts to "cable news guest" and plays to type. Plus he has a stupid accent.

Yeah, in other words, his writing is MUCH better.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:42 AM
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Trenchant_Troll
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That's no way to talk about the source of Paint's opinion.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 12:44 AM
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billgerat
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If the Bushists were smart (which they ain't) they'd hold a vote in Iraq asking only one question: should US military forces stay or go?

For one, it would demonstrate the Bush belief in bringing Middle East democracy. For a second, if the vote came out go (which it would) it would give the US cover as far as "cut and run" goes - how could we be cutting and running if we are merely following the wishes if the Iraqi people? If the country devolves into anarchy (which it probably would - and is that much different from what is going on now?) at least it would be the responsibility of the Iraqi people.

Otherwise, if we stay, then we should:

1. Start a draft, effective until Iraq is done with.
2. Double the troops in the country.
3. Protect only stategic areas, and let the rabble have the rest.
4. Kick out every swinging dick American contractor firms - Halliburton, KBR, etc. and hire only Iraqi firms and labor (they have great experience and talent in rebuilding. Who do you think rebuilt Iraq after Desert Storm?). This will employ a lot of the unemployed labor in the country, boost the national economy, and Iraqis would be more willing to turn against the terrorists and jihadis since it would be their own people they would be protecting instead of foreigners.
5. Push for reconstruction in a few basic areas - electricity, water, sewage, phone networks. Put all our monies into restoring these services, first in the big cities, then work outward. With double the boots on the ground and concentrated in strategic areas in the country, security for the rebuilding effort will be much more successful than it ever has been.

Yeah, like any of this will ever happen.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 02:08 AM
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CHiPsJr
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quote:
Originally posted by Paint CHiPs
I believe a big part of the redeployment would be to Kurdish areas.


Unless I misread it in a big way, you're quite mistaken. Kerry-Feingold requires that all US troops be out of Iraq by July 1 2007. That includes Kurdistan. The "over the horizon" deployment implies deployment in neighboring friendly nations or off of carriers--that means zero protection for Kurdistan except for air power, and it also given insurgents a target of opportunity every bit as easily accessible as the one currently present in Iraq.

It's a bad idea, bordering on an immoral one where the Kurds are concerned.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 03:33 AM
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torque
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We could help out the Kurds by carving out a piece of Jordan or Lebanon, evicting everyone there, and letting them have their own country. I'm sure it would work.

Oddly enough, I agree with the billgerat plan of having Iraqis just plain vote on go/stay. And if the vote is stay, really fight to win. If the vote is go, load up, get out, and get ready to shake up Iran or something.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 05:16 AM
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SimpleSimon
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I'd agree with billgerat as well, except I'd say load up, get out, go home.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 05:21 AM
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Coincidence
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Who knew billgerat could set it up as neat as that? Class [p]

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Old Post 09-28-2006 10:20 AM
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Paint CHiPs
Smartest Man in the World

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Today's Sullivan Quotes of the Day:




quote:

"Congress isn't driving the bus over a cliff - that's what the administration asked for, but thanks to the bold rebellion of Senators McCain, Warner and Graham, Congress refused. Instead they simply removed the guard rail, fired the traffic cops, gave the keys to a drunk driver, and closed their eyes,"

- Obsidian Wings' blog, on the torture and detention-without-charge bill.



Marty Lederman dissects the rightly blistering NYT editorial today here. They used my formulation:

quote:

"Americans of the future won't remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration. They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."





I spent this afternoon writing my congressmen, btw. I feel so self-righteous when I do that.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 06:53 PM
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Trenchant_Troll
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If he is like the rest of us, he will look at your massive missive and click delete.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 06:59 PM
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Paint CHiPs
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Beats just bitching to you guys.

Not by much, but still.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 07:10 PM
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Trenchant_Troll
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Come to think of it, he no doubt has some staffer that he pays to not read your blather.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 07:14 PM
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Paint CHiPs
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Well sure, but when I write my congressmen, it's important people ignoring me.

That's a step up no matter how you slice it.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 07:17 PM
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Trenchant_Troll
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You cannot possibly be suggesting that there is someone more important than me. That is just plain silly.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 07:19 PM
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Paint CHiPs
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Posts: 26816

Great quote today from Sully himself:

quote:

The only response is for the public to send a message this fall. In congressional races, your decision should always take into account the quality of the individual candidates. But this November, the stakes are higher. If this Republican party maintains control of all branches of government, the danger to individual liberty is extremely grave. Put aside all your concerns about the Democratic leadership. What matters now is that this juggernaut against individual liberty and constitutional rights be stopped. The court has failed to stop it; the legislature has failed to stop it; only the voters can stop it now. If they don't, they will at least have been warned.


A-fucking-men. I'm glad he's finally been getting on that bandwagon. It's the only sensible reaction, at this point.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 09:17 PM
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CHiPsJr
Ginger-headed Troll

Registered: Sep 2000
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 7511

Well, he's not QUITE fully on the bandwagon yet:

quote:
Neither party comes out of this looking anything but cowardly, unprincipled and morally bankrupt.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 10:01 PM
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Paint CHiPs
Smartest Man in the World

Registered: Jul 2000
Location: Location Location
Posts: 26816

That's the stodgy hedge I was talking about. After that, he also quoted Hillary Clinton's speech more than approvingly.

The Democrats are still far behind where they should be, but also a far, far sight better than the alternative. We'll see what the Senate vote looks like--the house was nearly along party lines (33 Dems supported the torture bill, 7 Republicans opposed).

But, let's see how the Democrats look in this, and unprincipled and morally bankrupt they are.

Barack Obama:

quote:

I may have only been in this body for a short while, but I am not naive to the political considerations that go along with many of the decisions we make here. I realize that soon, we will adjourn for the fall, and the campaigning will begin in earnest. And there will be 30-second attack ads and negative mail pieces, and we will be called everything from cut-and-run quitters to Defeatocrats to people who care more about the rights of terrorists than the protection of Americans. And I know that the vote before us was specifically designed and timed to add more fuel to that fire.

And yet, while I know all of this, I'm still disappointed, and I'm still ashamed. Because what we're doing here today - a debate over the fundamental human rights of the accused - should be bigger than politics. This is serious.

. . . Instead of allowing this President--or any President---to decide what does and does not constitute torture, we could have left the definition up to our own laws and to the Geneva Conventions, as we would have if we passed the bill that the Armed Services committee originally offered.

Instead of detainees arriving at Guantanamo and facing a Combatant Status Review Tribunal that allows them no real chance to prove their innocence with evidence or a lawyer, we could have developed a real military system of justice that would sort out the suspected terrorists from the accidentally accused.

And instead of not just suspending, but eliminating, the right of habeas corpus--the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention, we could have given the accused one chance--one single chance--to ask the government why they are being held and what they are being charged with. . . .


Russ Feingold:

quote:

Mr. President, I oppose the Military Commissions Act.

Let me be clear: I welcome efforts to bring terrorists to justice. It is about time. This Administration has too long been distracted by the war in Iraq from the fight against al Qaeda. We need a renewed focus on the terrorist networks that present the greatest threat to this country.

But Mr. President, we wouldn't be where we are today, five years after September 11 with not a single Guantanamo Bay detainee having been brought to trial, if the President had come to Congress in the first place, rather than unilaterally creating military commissions that didn't comply with the law. The President wanted to act on his own, and he dared the Supreme Court to stop him. And he lost. The Hamdan decision was an historic rebuke to an Administration that has acted for years as if it were above the law.

Finally, only because he was essentially ordered to do so by the Supreme Court, the President has agreed to consult with Congress. I would have hoped that we would take this opportunity to pass legislation that allows us to proceed in accordance with our laws and our values. That is what separates America from our enemies. These trials, conducted appropriately, have the potential to demonstrate to the world that our democratic, constitutional system of government is our greatest strength in fighting those who attacked us.

And that is why I am saddened that I must oppose this legislation. Because, Mr. President, the trials conducted under this legislation will send a very different signal to the world, one that I fear will put our own troops and personnel in jeopardy both now and in future conflicts. To take just a few examples, this legislation would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and hearsay, would not allow full judicial review of the conviction, and yet would allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death. That is simply unacceptable. We would not stand for another country to try our citizens under those rules, and we should not stand for our own government to do so, either.


Senator Dodd:

quote:

Mr. President, the Administration and Republican leadership would have the American people believe that the War on Terror requires a choice between protecting America from terrorism and upholding the basic tenets upon which our country was founded -- but not both. This canard has been showcased in every recent election cycle.
I fully reject that reasoning. We can, and we must, balance our responsibilities to bring terrorists to justice, while at the same time protecting what it means to be America. To choose the rule of law over the passion of the moment takes courage. But it is the right thing to do if we are to uphold the values of equal justice and due process that are codified in our Constitution.

Our founding fathers established the legal framework of our country on the premise that those in government are not infallible. America's leaders knew this sixty years ago, when they determined how to deal with Nazi leaders guilty of horrendous crimes. There were strong and persuasive voices, at the time, crying out for the execution of these men who had commanded with ruthless efficiency the slaughter of six million innocent Jews and five million other innocent men, women, and children. After World War II, our country was forced to decide if the accused criminals deserved a trial or execution.

This history is particularly personal to me. My father, Thomas Dodd, worked alongside Justice Robert Jackson in prosecuting these trials at Nuremberg. He viewed Nuremberg as one of the most pivotal moments in our history - where America chose to uphold the rule of law rather than succumb to rule of the mob. Let me be clear: these enemies of the United States were not given the opportunity to walk away from their crimes. Rather, they were given the right to face their accuser, the right to confront evidence against them, and the right to a fair trial. Underlying that decision was the conviction that this nation must not tailor its most fundamental principles to the conflict of the moment -- and the recognition that if we did, we would be walking in the very footsteps of the enemies we despised. . . .

As Justice Jackson said at Nuremberg, "we must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well." Mr. President, to rubber-stamp the Administration's bill would poison one of the most fundamental principles of American democracy. I urge my colleagues not to allow that to happen.


John Kerry:

quote:

We must start treating our moral authority as a precious national asset that does not limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn't get it. Right now - today -- they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.

Let me be clear about something--something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.

The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they've already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.


And the aforementioned Hillary Clinton:

quote:

The light of our ideals shone dimly in those early dark days [of the Revolutionary War], years from an end to the conflict, years before our improbable triumph and the birth of our democracy. General Washington wasn't that far from where the Continental Congress had met and signed the Declaration of Independence. But it's easy to imagine how far that must have seemed. General Washington announced a decision unique in human history, sending the following order for handling prisoners:

"Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren."

Therefore, George Washington, our commander-in-chief before he was our President, laid down the indelible marker of our nation's values even as we were struggling as a nation – and his courageous act reminds us that America was born out of faith in certain basic principles. In fact, it is these principles that made and still make our country exceptional and allow us to serve as an example. We are not bound together as a nation by bloodlines. We are not bound by ancient history; our nation is a new nation. Above all, we are bound by our values.

George Washington understood that how you treat enemy combatants could reverberate around the world. We must convict and punish the guilty in a way that reinforces their guilt before the world and does not undermine our constitutional values.

Now these values – George Washington’s values, the values of our founding – are at stake. We are debating far-reaching legislation that would fundamentally alter our nation's conduct in the world and the rights of Americans here at home. And we are debating it too hastily in a debate too steeped in electoral politics.

The Senate, under the authority of the Republican Majority and with the blessing and encouragement of the Bush-Cheney Administration, is doing a great disservice to our history, our principles, our citizens, and our soldiers. The deliberative process is being broken under the pressure of partisanship and the policy that results is a travesty,"


One of Sullivan's faults--and yours frankly--is this knee-jerk tendency towards false equivalency ("stodgy reflexivness" I think I said). Where every issue must be EVERYBODY'S fault equally, or more to the point, every Republican fault should also be a Democratic fault in there somewhere. Now for my money the Democrats should have filibustered. Sure. But they, like the rest of the country, were holding out hope that elements of the Republican party would stand up on this one. They did not. This is McCain's bill now as much as it is Bush's. This is Exhibit F against the argument that people should keep voting for Republicans, but try to vote for the "good" ones where possible, and hope that balances it out. It won't. Specter on FISA and McCain on this proves that. The power of majority is greater than the power of a small handful of mavericks, any day.

To put the Republican and Democratic party on even the same field of moral bankruptcy and unprincipledness on this issue is ludicruous on its face. We have a simple test to prove that, of course: we'll see how the vote looked in the Senate.

Sullivan can't resist a dig at the Democrats, but his conclusion in spite of that is pretty damn clear. I'll repost it:

quote:

The only response is for the public to send a message this fall. In congressional races, your decision should always take into account the quality of the individual candidates. But this November, the stakes are higher. If this Republican party maintains control of all branches of government, the danger to individual liberty is extremely grave. Put aside all your concerns about the Democratic leadership. What matters now is that this juggernaut against individual liberty and constitutional rights be stopped. The court has failed to stop it; the legislature has failed to stop it; only the voters can stop it now. If they don't, they will at least have been warned.

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Old Post 09-28-2006 10:17 PM
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