Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Scoldpottle Dems: soft on coercive Republican power 

Jack Balkin:
I am puzzled by and ashamed of the Democrats' moral cowardice on this bill. The latest version of the bill blesses detainee abuse and looks the other way on forms of detainee torture; it immunizes terrible acts; it abridges the writ of habeas corpus-- in the last, most egregious draft, it strips the writ for alleged enemy combatants whether proved to be so or not, whether citizens or not, and whether found in the U.S. or overseas.


The current bill, if passed, will give the Executive far more dictatorial powers to detain, prosecute, judge and punish than it ever enjoyed before. Over the last 48 hours, it has been modified in a hundred different ways to increase executive power at the expense of judicial review, due process, and oversight. And what is more, the bill's most outrageous provisions on torture, definition of enemy combatants, secret procedures, and habeas stripping, are completely unnecessary to keep Americans safe. Rather, they are the work of an Executive branch that has proven itself as untrustworthy as it is greedy: always pushing the legal and constitutional envelope, always seeking more power and less accountability.

If the Democrats do not stand up to the President on this bill, if they refuse to filibuster it or even threaten to filibuster it, they do not deserve to win any additional seats in the House or in the Senate. They will have delivered a grievous blow to our system of checks and balances, stained America's reputation around the world, and allowed an obscenity to disfigure the American system of law and justice. Far worse than a misguided zealot is the moral coward who says nothing and allows that zealotry to do real harm. ~ [read full post: follow link above]

I'm with Atrios. If these religion scolds vote for this bill I will never stand for being lectured by them again about how liberals need to be more respectful of the faith and values crowd. The time is now for them show what they are made of. Let's see it.

Rewind the projection machine

This is what Jeane Kirkpatrick (Ambassador to Right Wing Doubletalk)wrote in Dictatorships and Double Standards (published 1982):
When an unrealized goal becomes the operational aim of an elite endowed with coercive power and a sense of righteousness, tragedy becomes more probable than progress. Historians may contemplate the irony of liberating revolutions that enslave, of brotherhood that ends at the guillotine, of equality enforced by a maximum ruler; the people, on the other hand, are left to suffer.


[...] The distinctive characteristic of the misery wreaked by Nazi and Soviet regimes on millions was precisely that it represented deliberate policy. The torturing, enslaving, freezing, starving, gassing, shooting, were not the acts of furtive madmen, but the purposive, collaborative action of thousands who had achieved in their societies a role of authority and access to the coercive power that is a defining characteristic of government. These authorities justified their policies - as authorities always do - by reference to a public purpose: a vision (however diabolic) of a public good that grants permission to torture, murder, and otherwise indulge aggressive instincts.

Yes, "contemplate the irony" now, Jeane. Interesting isn't it, how Rigth-Wing authoritarian elites, "endowed with coercive power and a sense of righteousness", have managed to "enforced by a maximun ruler" (unitary executive power) "a vision of a public good that grants permission to torture...."

Any of that sound familiar to you today? How about you Harry Reid? How about you Barak Obama? How about you Holy Joe (the Connecticut snit) Lieberman? What about you Nancy Pelosi, you find anything thuggish in any of the above so-called "justified policies" at hand?


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