Meh Culpa

My letter to “Organizing America” the former Obama campaign site

(Written while unsubscribing, as a protest.)

I am not a Democrat.

I was a Democrat for a little over 30 years–until Diane Feinstein started acting and voting like a Republican. I told her I would never vote for her again and I won’t.  My point? Barack the president seems to have forgotten the promises he made as Barack the candidate. I have never seen such timid leadership in my life. No, wait:  the Democrats have behaved in such a manner all the way through the Bush administration. They kowtowed to the Republicans (who played serious hardball) while there was a big, wistful to-do in the MSM over “bipartisanship” that never happened because the Republicans were nasty and excluded the Democrats from almost every opportunity to make a difference. Perhaps the Democrats and Barack the president believe they should take the alleged high road and refuse to behave as the Republicans did.

With all solemnity, I adjure you… Now is not the time to abandon progressive ideals because a minority of crazy, hard right, radical Republicans–who don’t have much of a party left, mind you–are playing up the rhetoric and the lies and inflaming the wingnut populace against the president’s erstwhile agenda, inciting the crazies to riot and possibly to assassination.

Elegance and grace will not give us single payer and/or a public option or even decent health care. Besides, it would appear Barack the president and the rest of the Democrats have given up on both. If events unfold as I see they might, the insurance companies will realize even more profits if health insurance is mandated. How middle class and lower class Americans will pay, I don’t know. Tax deductions will not help. They are actually rather worthless. Americans need real help, upfront.

I cannot tell you how sickened I am with the current state of affairs. Single payer (with an option to retain private health insurance as is possible in the UK) is the right thing to do. Allowing Blue Dogs to mark this territory and bark orders to the rest of us is absolutely the wrong thing to do, and slightly insane into the bargain. While Teddy Kennedy was alive, you had a majority and you could have passed a good bill that contained both. Now all you have is mush.

What we Americans needed was an FDR on the economy and an LBJ on civil rights and health care. This administration hasn’t come close to giving us either one. What I see is a money-grubbing party that’s still beholden to big business, a party without backbone.  It’s appalling, truly.

And it’s not just health care. Barack the candidate was worrisome when he voted on FISA. But Barack the president has abandoned all principle on warrantless wiretapping as well as in legal cases concerning Guantanamo detainees, doing precisely what the Bush administration did before him, or worse. Barack the president did not seek to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He has left it to Congress, whose members will do nothing, ever. Barack the president has set up another Guantanamo in Bagram, and created an environment where anything will go by alleging that because Bagram is not on American soil (WTF?! It’s a US air base! Does that mean McCain isn’t really a US citizen? Hmph.), people detained there will have no right to habeas corpus let alone any Constitutional right to due process within the US legal system.  Barack the president still allows extraordinary rendition.  Barack the president has allowed the same people who destroyed the economy (think Wall Street investment bankers, Goldman Sachs, the New York Reserve, and the Fed) to retain control over the economy. Nothing has changed in that respect. Barack the president doesn’t want to do anything about the Bush administration higher-ups who approved torture and created an ethos where it could thrive and become even more twisted than Gen. Miller and John Yoo originally planned. Barack the candidate wanted to remove us from theaters of war while Barack the president is digging in in Afghanistan.

Barbara Boxer might give me hope, but it’s not yet clear she won’t do what she’s told by the White House, by the so-called Democratic leadership, or by the insurance and drug companies. But Barack the president and the rest of his administration? No, I have no hope at all.

I’m writing in the hortatory subjunctive now:  Look to your principles once more, recall the promises you made and work to fulfill them. Think of the people who voted for you, Barack & Company. Think about why they voted for you. It wasn’t simply your “soaring rhetoric,” you made promises that voters wanted kept. I urge you to reconsider your path, which thus far is filled with so many broken promises (after only nine months!). Remember that we who voted you and other Democrats into office can just as easily vote you out of office. Or, as in my case, simply not vote at all. There is no one worth voting for anymore.

Ignore me at your political peril. You will fail otherwise. A pity, but it’s true.

Sincerely yours–

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September 8, 2009 Posted by | 2008 presidential race, Abu Ghraib, Afghan War, Afghanistan, Bagram, banks, Bush administration, civil liberties, Congress, corruption, Defense, Democrats, Due process, Economy, far right, Federal Reserve, Foreign policy, gay rights, Geneva Conventions, Guantanamo, habeas corpus, human rights, Iraq War, Obama, Obama administration, politics, Republicans, torture, Treasury, US Constitution, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Dick on Torture: Jim Lehrer interviews Cheney

An excerpt from last night’s “News Hour” on PBS.

MR. LEHRER: A specific question related to that: Lead story in the Washington Post this morning is about a Bush administration official, Susan Crawford, who said, on the record, that she had recommended against charging one of the detainees at Guantanamo, a native of Saudi Arabia, because he had, in fact, been tortured at Guant

Meh Culpa: Susan Crawford was recommending against charging Qatani because once an individual has been tortured, the evidence gained is unreliable.  Or not worth admitting into evidence because it’s suspect.

And she made this comment, here – let me find it; here it is – this is Susan Crawford, who used to work for you, I understand, right?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: She worked at the department when I was there, correct.

MR. LEHRER: When you were at the Pentagon. She said, “I think someone should acknowledge that mistakes were made and that they hurt the effort,” meaning the whole effort in Guantanamo and dealing with the terrorists, quote, “and take responsibility for it.” End quote. Do you agree with her?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t know the specifics of what she’s talking about.

MR. LEHRER: You have never heard about this Saudi Arabia –

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I had heard about this individual before. This is Mr. Qatani, who was the 20th hijacker. He tried to get into the United States so he could get on one of the airplanes on 9/11 and fly into the Pentagon or the World Trade Center. He was stopped by an alert customs agent in Florida, I believe. I’m also, as I recall – I read the article this morning – that she said all of the techniques that were utilized were authorized.

Meh Culpa: In terms of the “value” of this “enemy combatant,” he’d be the last person you’d want to torture because you’d want good information.  Unfortunately, you might learn his knowledge was limited because he was part of a cell and perhaps had no contact with higher-ups. This could be frustrating, but it wouldn’t be worth torturing the individual and compromising American values.

None of them were in violation of the basic fundamental tenets that we used out there. She was, as I understand it, complaining about the way in which – well, specifically, the way in which they were administered – I don’t have any way to judge that; I’m sure that the Defense Department has or will thoroughly investigate it and get to the bottom of it.

They’re very good at those sort of things. So it’s entirely possible there was a problem in terms of how one specific prisoner was handled. I can’t claim perfection. But what I can say is that in terms of what the policies of the administration were, both at the White House level and at the Defense Department, was that enhanced interrogation was okay.

Meh Culpa: The comment that “enhanced interrogation” was okay because White House and DOD policy said was, is disingenuous at best. At worst it is a bald-faced lie. I’m going with the bald-faced lie.  Moreover, Andrew Sullivan has repeatedly pointed out that “enhanced interrogation” was the term used by the Gestapo for their torture techniques–and the same used by the US and authorized by the Bush administration.

We had specific techniques that were approved by the Justice Department – but that we don’t torture and that we would not support torture from the standpoint of policy. It was not the policy of this administration.

We’ve seen evidence of the administration’s inestimably tortured logic on many occasions (i.e., Cheney is his own branch of government. Whew!).  Here we have doublespeak for “We have approved techniques that have been illegal for almost forever, techniques the Nazis used on their prisoners, but they aren’t torture because we say they aren’t. You believe us, right? Yay!”

Just because the president says it’s legal doesn’t mean it is. Remember Nixon?  And even though Addington and Yoo knew that almost every single interrogator would never “intend to inflict severe pain and suffering,” (which ostensibly would have gotten the interrogators off the hook in a war crimes trial) for them to study it, and say it is legal doesn’t mean it is.

MR. LEHRER: But just, for a general premise here, looking back, you don’t – nothing happened that you feel was over the line or that you feel that was a miscalculation or mistake of some kind?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, in terms of the treatment of a specific individual, I can’t say that. (Oh, yeah. Because there was only one…) We had Abu Ghraib, for example. In that case, I believe, based on what I’ve seen, that that was the result of some military personnel who were improperly supervised – weren’t given the right kind of guidance, weren’t managed properly.

As we dig in and look at hundreds of cases, we may well find a few people who were not properly treated. (A few, huh?) You know, I ran the Pentagon. I know that you can’t absolutely guarantee, at all times, that everybody’s doing it the way they’re supposed to be doing it.

(Oh, really. You can’t can you? So it’s just a few people lower on the totem pole who are responsible for torture?  The Word didn’t come from the top?)

I can tell you what the policy was; I can tell you that we had all the legal authorization we needed to do it, including the sign-off of the Justice Department. I can tell you it produced phenomenal results for us, and that a great many Americans are alive today because we did all that. And I think those are the important considerations.

Meh Culpa: Alberto Gonzalez doesn’t even understand the Constitution. Gonzalez is the same rat bastard who told G.W. Bush that the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to captured members of the Taliban because the group wasn’t recognized as rulers of the “failed state.”  This is the same bozo who thinks that because the war on terror–a phrase we’re not supposed to use anymore, unless we are–is a “new paradigm,” the Geneva Convention is “obsolete” and “quaint.”

That’s where you got your legal authorization, D I C K.

Sheesh.

Also, the “detainees” (a euphemism for POW) whom the US has released due to lack of evidence or because they’ve been tortured and the “evidence” they spewed isn’t admissable in court, whether they were innocent or guilty, are now  joining the resistance.  How is that saving Americans, D I C K?  How are those “phenomenal results”?

MR. LEHRER: And you’re personally very comfortable with that?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I am.

MR. LEHRER: For what happened and the reasons it happened and the end result?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: In terms of the interrogation, generally?

MR. LEHRER: Yes, absolutely.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: General policy?

MR. LEHRER: General policy.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Absolutely.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Abu Ghraib, Bush administration, Cheney, corruption, Defense, Executive branch, Geneva Conventions, Iran, Iraq War, political operatives, politics, torture, US Constitution, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment