Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Another Liberal Rant

In foreign policy, Bush I was an internationalist out to build a “New World Order” after the Cold War. However, post-9/11, Bush II converted to a neoconservatism that calls for unilateral American intervention in the Middle East and the Islamic world, to bring down dictators and establish democracy.

Thus, in March, 2003, Bush, in perhaps the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, invaded an Arab nation that had not attacked us, did not want war with us, and did not threaten us—to strip it of weapons we now know it did not have.

Result: Shia and Kurds have been liberated from Saddam, but Iran has a new ally in southern Iraq, Osama has a new base camp in the Sunni Triangle, the Arab and Islamic world have been radicalized against the United States, and copy-cat killers of Al Qaida have been targeting our remaining allies in Europe and the Middle East: Spain, Britain, Egypt and Jordan. And, lest we forget, 2055 Americans are dead and Walter Reed is filling up.

True to the neoconservative creed, Bush launched a global crusade for democracy that is now bringing ever closer to power Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, and Shia fundamentalists in Baghdad and Basra.

Democratic imperialism is still imperialism. To Arab and Islamic peoples, whether the Crusaders come in the name of God or in the name of democracy, they are still Crusaders.

Man, I wish I could write like that! Who is this articulate spokesman for the left’s attack on the Bush administration? Somebody by the name of Patrick Buchanan. Hmm… where have I heard that name before?

Has he ever actually read the New Testament?

From Pat Robertson:

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city,”

“And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.”

One can’t help but wonder if Robertson has actually ever read the book which he uses to make his fame and fortunes.

Cheney, the US, the UN, and torture

‘Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. US law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a ‘state of public emergency’) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.’

(Report of the United States to the UN Committee against Torture, October 15, 1999, UN Doc. CAT/C/28/Add.5, February 9, 2000, para. 6.)

Article VI, section 2 of the United States Constitution:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Treaties entered into by the US are co-equal with the constitution as the supreme law of the land. Lest you think this only refers to states’ abilities to override treaties, do some research. Case law would not support that.

Wouldn’t advocating against the constitution be an impeachable offence when you have sworn to uphold it?

Just a thought.


On Tuesday I spent most of the day passing out sample ballots at my local poll. Yes, I was one of those annoying people who tackle you as you try to get in to vote, stuffing literature in your hand. It was painful.

I would strongly favor a law prohibiting campaigning within 200 feet of the polling place, or on the grounds, parking lots and walkways of the polling place, whichever is greater. If you haven’t decided for whom you are voting before then, you probably shouldn’t be voting. Unfortunately, until such a law is passed, candidates and both parties will feel it necessary to be annoying, as long as their opponents are.

On the upside, for the first time in my memory two democrats were elected as Warrington Supervisors. In a district with a 2-1 Republican registration advantage, this is amazing. Local politics often don’t follow party lines, though. In this case reform-minded Republicans held two of five seats on the board. When the reform candidates lost in the primary they then chose to support the democratic candidates. It was somewhat surreal to see a Republican supervisor greeting people at the poll, and asking them to vote for the democrats.

At any rate, we do now have two democrats on the board. In contrast to recent supervisors, they aren’t employed by the people who have been getting township construction contracts. Amazing.

At one point during the day a black lincoln pulled up in front of the poll and two people wearing black suits and sunglasses got out and went to the trunk. I noticed two Bush stickers on the rear bumper, and since Bush supporters obviously have no qualms about murder, I was beginning to suspect the shotguns were about to come out to deal with the upstart dems outside the poll.

Fortunately, all that came out were the wrapped hoagies for the republican poll workers. (The democrats got homemade sandwiches and cookies, but we don’t have all that money from the construction)

From the Washington Post:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

My god, what have we become? We are using the Soviet era gulags, condemned worldwide, as our own gulags to hold prisoners indefinately, and torture them?

It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA’s internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA’s approved “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law. They include tactics such as “waterboarding,” in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning.

Read the full article, it’s terrifying. At what point have we completely abandoned our moral highground? When do we become just a latter day Soviet Empire, bent on world domination, regardless of what is right or wrong?

I believe in moral absolutes. Some things are just wrong, and good people don’t do them. Our country was founded on such beliefs:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We are, more and more, ceasing as a nation to be “good people.”

I am ashamed.

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!

humans and subhumans, I guess.

Trent Lott, regarding the search for a new Supreme Court Judge:

I want the President to look across the country and find the best man, woman, or minority that he can find.

A choice of one out of three? An interesting, and perhaps psychologically revealing, way to subdivide the options.

A distinction to be proud of.

From Democracy Now:

According to the New York Times, Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss met with Senator John McCain last week to urge him to exempt CIA officers from a proposed ban on torture. Three weeks ago the Senate voted 90 to 9 to ban the use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of any detainee held by the government.Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly said the CIA needed to be exempt because the president needs maximum flexibility in fighting the so-called war on terrorism. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch declared that the U.S. has now become “the only government in the world to claim a legal justification for mistreating prisoners during interrogations.”

Remember a time, not too many years ago, when it was easy to take pride in the U.S? Back during a period where we were seen as the fountain of democracy, setting a standard of justice for the world?

If America is the greatest country in the world, it is because of our system of justice, our protection of individual freedoms, our tolerance of those withwhom we disagree, our protection of minorities. It is not the colors of the flag, but the ideals for which the flag stand. So many people have the flag on their car antenna, or as a bumpersticker. I hope they give occasional thought to what is behind it.

If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention!

2000 God Bless Our Troops God Forgive George Bush


What was envisioned as the Senate’s role in approving Supreme Court Nominees?

From Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist, #76:

To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.

It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entier branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and, in the case of an elective magistrate, to his political existence, from betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

The underlines are mine.

Unfortunately, the current administration knows nothing about being ashamed.

What it’s all about

As republican troubles in congress and the whitehouse mount, I find myself less and less willing to discuss them here. Unlike most of those on the right, and many on the left, I can’t bring myself to treat this like a football game, cheering on our side, and booing theirs. I wish we could all look at the facts and react to them. This does not mean I don’t view the behavior of the administration as egregious. I do, but until we get over the bickering over which “side” we are on, we can’t get back on the right track.

Here are some facts:

  1. The administration was determined to go to war with Iraq, regardless of the efficacy of sanctions or Iraqi responses to them. The British memos revealed this, confirming what others who had resigned from the administration had previously said.
  2. The administration lied to start the war. This is the essence of Plamegate, not the revelation of a CIA operative. Joe Wilson was proven right. The evidence presented regarding Nigerian uranium was incorrect, and manufactured. The administration had every reason to know this.
  3. The administration has repeatedly attacked anyone who dared to criticize its handling of Iraq. Valerie Plame was exposed to punish Joe Wilson (no one doubts this at this point, the question is who exactly did it, and was it done in a manner that was illegal). Wilson is just one case, revisit Paul ONeill and several other people who have left the administration over disagreements with policy. What is egregious about the Plame affair is that she was a covert operative for the CIA. We can argue whether she was covert at the time, but the CIA originally asked for this investigation because it maintained she was. And, whether she was actively covert or not, she had had contacts overseas which were compromised by this revelation.
  4. Administration officials have lied to cover up their policies regarding Iraq. Of this there is no doubt, the question remaining is did they do it under oath before a grand jury.
  5. Because of the policies resulting in the war in Iraq, one thousand nine hundred and eighty six american service men and women have lost their lives in Iraq. In excess of 15,000 have been wounded.
  6. The administration has repeatedly violated international law in this case, first through our treaties with the UN, then by treating prisoners in ways prohibited by the Geneva convention, and then by authorizing torture both in Guantanemo, and in Iraq. While lower level soldiers have been prosecuted for this, at no point have the officers or administration been held accountable.
  7. The ostensible justifications for the war have been proven false. Not only have no Weapons of Mass Destruction been found, but the administration’s own investigators have found no reason whatsoever to believe that there was an ongoing program to develop such weapons, or that any effort was made to transport them such weapons out of the country prior to the war.
  8. Prior to the war, the Iraqi government had no relationship to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Since the war, Iraq has been become a prime center of Al Qaeda activities, recruiting many from those upset with the US Invasion.
  9. Rather than paying for itself from oil revenue, as some administration officials originally proclaimed, the invasion and occupation has now cost in excess of two hundred billion dollars. Partially because of this, and partially because of unwarranted tax cuts, the last three years have had the highest national budget deficit, in terms of adjusted dollars, in the history of the country. This money will have to be repaid. Borrowing now, and tax cuts now, amount to tax hikes for our children.

Many other illegal or dishonorable actions have been committed by the administration: illegally paying journalists (with taxpayer money) to promote their agenda on the air without disclosure of the agreement, no-bid contracts to companies with which the administration has a financial relationship, appointing unqualified people to important posts (a vetrinarian to lead the office of women’s health??, a Judge coordinator for horseshows to handle FEMA, and more), and many others. Ignoring those for the moment, though, the above list is by itself damning.

The Whitewater investigation lasted 5 years, and cost eighty million dollars. The congressional investigation of Whitewater lasted 13 months. At the end, the only thing that Bill Clinton was charged with was lying (under oath, admittedly) about his sex life. For this, the nation was brought to a standstill as he was impeached by the senate.

Forgive my naivete, but I believe lying to start a war resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths is more of a crime than lying about sex.

Given the standard set by Clinton and the Whitewater investigation, it is long past time to impeach and remove George W. Bush.