By Aaron Sussman
On October 17th, with Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, and Donald Rumsfeld standing behind him, George W. Bush solemnly announced, â€œin memory of the victims of September 11th, it is my honor to sign the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law.â€
It is apt that Bush invoked a terrifying assault on America as he signed the Military Commissions Act (MCA), legislation that chisels away at our civil liberties, abets and immunizes top-level torturers, and strikes at the core of American values and tradition. The message that Bush gave when he signed the Defense Bill in 2005 is now truer than ever:
â€œOur enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.â€
â€œIn memory of the victims of September 11th,â€ Bush passed a law that Robyn Blumner of the St. Petersburg Times calls â€œan obscenity against liberty and decencyâ€ and that the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls â€œunconstitutional and un-American.â€ A fitting tribute indeed for the victims whose names have been manipulated by this administration to justify everything from invading Iraq, to the USA PATRIOT Act, to torture, to tax cuts. This â€œhonorâ€ to the victims of September 11th is a national disgrace for which the Bush administration, both houses of Congress, and the media are to blame.
While the White House struggles to convince the nation that the MCA is perfectly legal and essential in order for the CIA to continue â€œone of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history,â€ the true implications of this act must be made clear. Out of the many dubious clauses in the act, the most egregious is the one that eliminates the writ of habeas corpus (the right to challenge the legality of oneâ€™s imprisonment), a fundamental right that dates back to the Magna Carta. In his First Inaugural Address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson said, â€œFreedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus I deem [one of the] essential principles of our government." Ironically, the Supreme Court case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that Bushâ€™s original military tribunals were illegal and made the Congressionally approved MCA necessary, would never have occurred if the MCA had been in effect, as it was petitioned by a detainee.
By Ramzy Baroud
On Election Day, America took a step that history may show to have been absolutely crucial in saving this republic. At a time when the soul of America has been gravely endangered by our ruling powers, the American people have handed significant power back to the opposition party. Perhaps they will be an effective check on the hitherto unchecked power of this usurpatious presidency.
But winning even an important battle is not winning the war (if you will allow the martial metaphorâ€“ indeed, in a meaningful sense, this IS war).
To continue to roll back these dark forces, it is imperative that the opposition exercise its new powers wisely. In the coming days, I hope to explore here what that may require. I will begin now with some thoughts â€“and a questionâ€“ about what the Democrats should do with their new-found power to conduct investigative hearings.
by Dave Lindorff,
The big losers on Election Day were of course President Bush and the Republican Party, but there was another loser too: the conspiracy theory that had it that a slick operation run out of Karl Roveâ€™s office, and working in cahoots with the makers of the electronic voting machines increasingly being installed by voting districts around the country would steal the key elections electronically.
I always felt that this conspiracy theory was over the top, and that it moreover was having the pernicious effect of creating massive cynicism about elections that would keep many people from voting who otherwise might have.
There's no way to know how many people didn't go to the polls because they decided that it would be a waste of time, but I sure have heard plenty of people saying, over the past year, "What's the point? The Republicans are going to steal the election anyway."
Well, if they were ever going to steal an election, this would have been the one to do it to. The last thing a criminal president whose popularity is in the cellar needs is a Congress armed with subpoena power in the hands of the opposition party. Surely, if Karl Rove could have tinkered with the numbers on those voting machines in just a few dozen districts, or in states like Montana or Virginia where the margin was a few thousand votes, and where the key voter registrar officials were fellow Republicans, he would have done it.
Instead, we saw dozens of congressional races and a handful of key Senate races switch to the Democrats, and sometimes by the narrowest of margins.
by Mickey Z.
In a recent correspondence, Adam Engel wrote: "One of the greatest myths
about America is that it's the 'home of the brave.' Once, perhaps, prior to
1492. Now, it's most likely the greatest collection of cowards in the Milky
Way Galaxy." Engel specifically mentioned our lack of response to losing
habeas corpus and to being both "subject to eternal imprisonment for
liberating animals from vivisection labs" and "complicit in the murder of
hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghanis, South and
Central Americans, Haitians etc. etc. etc."
He could've also included our acquiescence in a frighteningly broad range of areas, e.g. access to health care, tolerance for voting irregularities, directly funding the Israeli war machine, and stomaching the groupthink behind saluting a flag. Americans talk the talk but when ordered to remove their shoes before going through airport security, it's "yes sir" all the way.
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For the purposes of this article I'd like to highlight another area in which American bravery is lacking...an area I have touched on before: supporting the troops. As John Kerry's recent episode demonstrated, one cannot appear to criticize the men and women in uniform without paying a high price. There are many who identify themselves as "anti-war" who will vigorously defend the troops. Even when faced with documented evidence of criminality, Americans still cannot summon the bravery to condemn the military.
As Don Rumsfeld is tossed overboard by the panicky Bushes (who value loyalty to themselves above all other virtues but never, ever, practice it toward others; there will be many more bodies left behind as the Family rallies to clean up Junior's mess again), Steve Gilliard steps in below to remind us that what we are actually dealing with here is not politics, not some Beltway horse race, or some idiotic media game of "who's up, who's down." The issue is mass murder -- thousands of Americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- and human suffering beyond imagining for millions more.
This is the reality. This is what really matters about Rumsfeld and the other architects of the war crime in Iraq. And although all the talk about the election's political ramifications for the Bush Administration is entertaining and diverting, as most gossip is, and not without some importance, on the most essential level it is a moral obscenity.
For when Bush opens his mouth, clotted bits of corpseflesh tumble out; when he walks, he wades through pools of human blood. And behind him, skittering and scooting in the blood-slick on their hands and knees, come all his ministers, handlers and toadies, come all the media sycophants who eagerly peddled his lies, come all the war profiteers who fill their bank vaults with hacked limbs, blown guts, crushed heads and mounds of viscera -- their treasure, their prize. Are we really supposed to be concerned about the political standing of such wretches? Should we not be outraged that they are allowed to walk among free people, much less exercise power and dominion over the nation? Why do they have any "political standing" at all?
And yet, they do. This too is reality, and we must deal with it.
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Forget political correctness. The revolution has NOT arrived! Bush is still president. The corporate state is safe. The Upper Class has little to fear. Lobbyists will be writing different names on checks. Winning Democrats will entertain more than they will produce historic restorative reforms. Did Republicans deserve to lose? Of course!
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However, Americans who thought their votes would bring much needed change to our political system also lost. They just donâ€™t know or admit it yet. As usual, the third-party movement lost, because the two-party duopoly maintained its stranglehold on our political system. Populists and true progressives lost. Who or what was the biggest winner? The short-term and delusional tactic of lesser-evil voting won big.
On the liberal left, millions of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war voters held their noses, repressed the truth about cowardly and compromised Democrats. They rationalized why beating Republicans was the most important goal. Fake, neo-progressives, little more than embarrassed Democrats, finally showed their true blue commitment. On the right, millions of fiscal conservative, pro-life, and evangelical voters blocked out many facts, disappointments and scandals, and rationalized why keeping Republicans in power was the most important goal. They wanted to stay the course. Many spiritual libertarians given no Libertarian Party candidates went red. Spiritual greens went blue. Many independents, centrists and moderates unable to vote for None of the Above, went lesser-evil. Self-delusion ran rampant as placebo voting ruled the day.
by D.A. Weaz
The most remarkable thing about what the future holds for Dubya will be the prospect that he will have far fewer shields for his patent idiocy. For it was quite easy for George to hide behind Congressional Majority leaders of both Houses to offer guidance, support and the "jumpstart the propaganda" sound bytes, allowing the President's own one line regurgitations to have already had a phalanx of pundits and more eloquent speakers translating his one liners into a larger policy. The days of Congressional leaders supporting, rather than challenging, the President's vision are over. And even Rummy, for all of his arrogance, bluster and errant judgment, did actually have proficient command of the English language and a condescending air of authority that hinted that he might know more than what our own lyin' eyes were telling us every day. Rummy is history.
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So it now leaves a handful of translators and apologists. And even these are in disarray. "Shoot a man in the face" Dick Cheney has about the personality and charm of soiled toiletpaper and is one of the few politicans with an even lower approval rating than Dubya's. He is not likely to help. Ken Mehlmann, perhaps after looking like he's aged ten years in two, is rumored to be on the way out. And though Ken was on the dark side, he was smart enough to at least be both likeable and knowledgeable about issues, and yet that didn't stop him from running a clearly racist ad in Tennissee, which, though detestable, wound up winning the Senate seat in the best tradition of race baiting Southern politicians. Ken will be sorely needed, and his loss to the newly needed, kinder, gentler Rethuglican will be catastrophic, thinking about two years out.
So that leaves Condi. Articulate and loved by the media, she has constantly shown that she is incapable of earning the respect of those who matter most: the President and his army of warmongers. She might have more of a chance now that all of the NeoCons jumped off of the President's rotting carcass before yesterday's bloodbath, but there will still be a Dick in the corner office. And getting around that Dick has really be tough for Condi. They apparently don't mix well together.
And yes, there will always be the echoing media. But even these normal Republican doves have started taking shots at the Administration. They will surely try to limit the damage as much as possible, for example still refraining to declare Virginia's Senate race over, though all the votes are counted. But there is only so much spinning you can do, especially when Americans have finally woken up to the fact that our media is ranked #53 worldwide for good reason.
In short, these two years will be even more taxing than the string of disasters that brought George to this place. For now Congressional inquiries will mean that he will finally have to do something that he or his administration haven't had to do in six years: establish that their conduct fell WITHIN the bounds of the law. This will tax the President to no end because the prospect of criminal liability looms. And while he will certainly not be impeached, who can say what will happen if a Democratic President emerges in 2008 and we can explore much more completely the extent of George's criminality. And if then a Justice Department were worthy of its name, George's already historic string of bad luck could get much, much worse.
In the meantime, look to George to put on his most polite manners and congenial, back slapping persona. But this just reveals what a historically pathetic character he is: given a bit of power, he runs power amok, intoxicated with arrogance, infallibility and irreverence. When, however, he is called to account, he will retreat like a sheepish child, and hope a couple chuckles and shy smiles will get him out of the mess that he's made.
He is and has been a national disgrace. Having him explain the actions of his Administration, after stripping him of the wall of spokespeople separating him from reality, should be punishment enough.
But it is not. If Saddam can hang, "serious consequences" should ensue to George.
Maybe not now. But his time will come.
Just like he said: "We ARE a nation of laws."