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Posted by on Sep 27, 2006 in At TMV | 14 comments

JB At Balkanization: Why The Democrats Deserve To LOSE

JB published an interesting post (without the sneers) over at Balkanization.

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.

This bill is simply outrageous. I doubt whether many Democratic Senators or staffs have read the bill or understand what is in it. Instead, they seem to be scrambling over themselves to vote for it out of a fear that the American public will think them weak and soft on terror.
[…]
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.

The overall idea of JB is quite compelling: The Republicans agreed to a compromise, yet a compromise that is completely unacceptable to the Democrats. Yet the Democrats did not seem to be as dedicated as they should be to truly do something against it.

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  • corvus

    What’s really interesting is the silence of the American people on this subject. It would appear as though most Americans are in favour these methods or at least that’s what people will read from their silence.

    Sounds to me like the GOP want it both ways

    Dems complain and the GOP accuse them of being soft on the terrorists.

    Dems don’t complain they’re called spineless

    Colbert covered this well the other night

  • Kim Ritter

    The Dems are wrapped up in not giving Karl Rove any more rope to hang them with. It is cowardly, but they are not about to lose races the way they did when Max Clelland voted against the Patriot Act, and Rove used it to get Saxby Chambliss elected. I’m hoping that they grow a spine if they win back one of the houses of Congress.

    corvus is right, though. These people are our representatives who will respond to political pressure 40 days before an election. The American people are complicit in this. They either are oblivious because it doesn’t directly affect their day-to-day lives, or they don’t understand the compromise worked out between the Republican senators and the White House.

  • Rudi

    What’s really interesting is no posting or mention of Balkinization when the comprimise bill came out. The authors of the blog are STRONGLY against the torture bill. MvdG picks/cherrypicks blogs to attack the Democrats.

    “>banana-republic
    “>torture-parade
    “>it-gets-worse

    These three posts at Balkanization ask Dansforth, McCain, the Wall Street Journal and NRO why they support Bush’s torture stance. Where were the links to this stance at Balkan? I have to agree though, the Democrats need to stand up to this “Spectering” of the supposed Maverics, but a divided goverment is better than the rubber stamp.

  • Ow, please, Rudi, find something valuable to do with your life, because I sure as heck have no time to respond to those kinds of silly attacks.

  • Rudi

    I will not – BalloonJuice, Andrew Sullivan and Balkanization are three right of center sites/bloggers that have came out strongly against the torture compromise calling it a sellout. You cherrypick one post at JB to in effect call the Democrats spineless. Why no posts from Sullivan, he attacks Republicans who rubberstamp Bush’s use of torture. The real Axis of Evil (Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Facist Italy) used torture and now Bush wants the US to join this “Yale fraternity”.

  • Tommy

    What’s new? They will get behind this bill the same way the got behind the one that gave Bush the power to declare war on Iraq. Mainstream Democrats are almost completely without any backbone or principles.

  • Rudi, yesyes I hate the democrats. Woe those cowards. They all should be dead. anti-American. appeasers. anti-Christian, andsoforth…

    smhg.

  • Rudi

    MvdG leave the snark to SnarkySnark, he does a better job. My links above didnt work, here are the titles of the posts. I am critical because you ignored to mention the words from another post.

    Further tales from a banana republic
    Sandy Levinson

    Again, I ask the right-wing readers of Balkinization: Is this the way they envision governance in a respectable republic? Why aren’t conservatives outraged at the degradation of what we used to believe was a system of representative democracy and the slide into a form of caesarism?

    Those are powerfull words, questioning the Right.

    link – It Gets Worse
    Marty Lederman

    link – Hate to Rain on the Torture Parade . . .
    Marty Lederman

    link – Further tales from a banana republic
    Sandy Levinson

    Spineless Democrats Deserve to Lose
    JB

    Michael ends his post with:
    The overall idea of JB is quite compelling: The Republicans agreed to a compromise, yet a compromise that is completely unacceptable to the Democrats. Yet the Democrats did not seem to be as dedicated as they should be to truly do something against it.

    Michael – Go back to JB and raed their take on the compromise, you will find the Republicans are just as “spineless”. Your hero StMcCain spectered his conscious to Bush on this one. He ignores his beatings at the Hanio Hilton to appease the NRO toryture crowd, all for primary votes.

  • Mikkel

    Let me just step in and say this is no longer about politics. IF this bill is as bad as people (many being conservative) think it is, then we’re way beyond politics and talking about the whole system and way of life. Let’s talk about what Glenn Greenwald and Balkinzation fear it means:

    But the really breathtaking subsection is subsection (ii), which would provide that UEC is defined to include any person “who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.”

    Read literally, this means that if the Pentagon says you’re an unlawful enemy combatant — using whatever criteria they wish — then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to “hostilities” at all. [NOTE: He thinks this could apply equally to US citizens as well]

    It strips habeas corpus so no court could rule on the legality of the detention. It cuts out Congress so they wouldn’t even know what was going on, let alone stop it. It promises to keep in line with the Geneva Conventions but gives the President the power to define that. Oh but of course that’s ok because he has the OPTION to publish the accepted “interrogation techniques,” you know, just in case he feels like sharing what’s going on. I should note these are not “theoretical,” abuses surrounding these concerns have already been well documented against innocent foreign civilians of our allies.

    Oh, by the way “leftist groups” might become terrorists. To quote the NIE: “The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint.” The crusade against generic “terrorists” will open up these tools against anyone, foreign or domestic. Once a population will do anything you say against the external enemy, it’s only a stone throw away from turning them on your neighbors. I have complained for years about people talking about “terrorists” and keeping the war abstract instead of well defined against a specfic enemy for this exact reason.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I am NOT worried about Bush becoming supreme dictator who is going to destroy us because he is evil or whatever. What I am worried about is that we are on the brink of laying down the foundation for a dictatorship — with the exact same laws that have preceeded them ever since Caesar (that’s what’s so sickening, nothing is new it’s just a bad rerun) — and we haven’t even suffered many terrorist attacks! I am worried what will happen 5,10,15 years from now after we’ve had our 3rd, 4th or 5th attack and it keeps getting worse and worse. The common, decent people — our leaders included — will rationalize each misstep in the name of security, unity and the greater good for it is true the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That is when when the change will occur and the common man can disappear due to a typewriter malfunction (six points to whomever gets that reference — a far scarier work than even 1984 since in it the population is too busy shopping to get angry), but I fear we are close to getting on a road with no exits; the actual transformation will be a slow moving train wreck.

    Upon hearing about the bill my boss said, “The worst thing is that I feel like I am living through every single science fiction novel I’ve ever read, and yet don’t have the courage to act like I always pretended I would.” That is the magnitude we are talking about in this current environment. If these are that bad (hell just the fact that even traditional conservative commentators think they’re this bad) it’s not about the political parties, it’s about the soul of the country. Since we’ve been corresponding about it Michael knows I am seriously considering changing the course of my whole life in a last ditch effort to create a new political discourse. I am the most calm, collected and (since I’ve matured) nuanced person my friends have ever known but my (calculated) fury is growing daily.

  • Rambie

    Mikkel, a very well thought out post. I agree, that this bill could be morphed into a very ugly thing.

  • jjc

    I support the Dems and will anyway even if they don’t filibuster this bill if that’s what it takes to stop it, but I have nothing to rebut those who say the Dems are useless at a moment like this.

    This would be as fine a moment as could be for Joe Lieberman to step up and speak out against this erosion of our national character. It would be good politics, too–Ned Lamont could never have the same impact.

    Really, this is the moment his entire political career, based on bipartisanship and moral probity, has led up to. He could do something John McCain couldn’t.

    I’d be flabbergasted if he did, but man, it would be worth it.

  • Isidora

    I wonder when the religious right is going to realize that it is more than possible to define some anti-abortion groups as “terrorist organizations.” Quite possibly not until someone comes for them, and by then it will be too late, since there will be no substantial legal protections left for anyone accused of anything labled as terrorism.

  • Isidora

    Funny I should have posted what I just did. It appears that someone else is thinking along the same lines, although, fortunately, satirically. (I found it by accident. I suppose this is what I get for reading FARK.)

    Obviously, the attack described is terrorism. But these sort of things have been happening occasionally for a long time, and have always been dealt with through proper legal channels.

    Also, what happens when all pro-lifers become potential terrorist suspects simply because a small handful of them are terrorists?

  • Rudi

    Mikkel,
    You should have also included this from Balkinazation.

    Most of the attention in the press has focused on subsection (i) of the definition, which would designate as an UEC any “person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces).” And that subsection is, indeed, broad, and fairly indeterminate, depending on how “materially supported hostilities” is interpreted (something that the Administration apparently could do without much or any judicial review).

    What I have included in bold type expands UEC to anyone who supports a terrorist group. These aren’t combatants in Iraq, Afghanistan or wereevre the endless battlefield of the GWOT. This can be your neibhor who gives to an Islamic charity or a priest who helps an illegal alien. There are laws on the books that addressaiding the enemy, but expanding UEC to non-combatants away from the battlefield is a threat to all Americans. Like I commented earlier, MvdG nitpicked/cherrypicked one post by JB, when read in total Balkinazation is very concerned about the scope of this “comprimise”. The concern about spineless Democrats is our least worry.

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