Right votes, wrong reasons

January 29th, 2008 – 11:26 pm
Tagged as: Law,Politics

In case you find yourself thinking that the majority of Senate Democrats actually care about things like the rule of law, Glenn Greenwald puts Monday’s vote into perspective for you:

Senate Democrats today took a stand for their procedural rights, not against telecom immunity or warrantless eavesdropping. After all, many of the Senate Democrats who voted to filibuster this bill were more than ready last week to vote for that bill, and they will vote for it again soon enough. Moreover, while they were upset that they were denied the right to vote on these amendments, many of them intend to vote against those very same amendments and will ensure that most, if not all of them, fail, so that the bill arrives at the White House in a form acceptable to the Leader.

As indicated, it’s preferable for several reasons that the Cloture Motion failed today — and one can still praise Senate Democrats for refusing to capitulate fully (at least yet) — but it isn’t the case that Senate Democrats collectively took a stand here for anything more substantive than their own institutional customs. Many of the Democratic Senators whom you like today for voting against cloture will be voting soon enough in favor of telecom amnesty and for warrantless eavesdropping. The House is the real hope for stopping these measures.

Yes, better the right vote for the wrong reasons than the wrong vote, but it’s more than a little sad that apparently the only really important things for many Senators (good examples are Rockefeller and Specter) are their precious privileges. I’m sure though that more than one of the Senators who in the future casts votes in favor of telecom amnesty will issue a press release pointing to their vote on Monday as evidence that they stood up for the rule of law, when in fact they couldn’t really care less. For now, the important thing is to keep the pressure on, and give the Senate Democrats another chance to continue on the long road to redemption. I’m skeptical that they actually want to be redeemed, but there’s little harm in trying.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 21st, 2008 – 7:25 pm
Tagged as: Economics

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about “Where do we go from here?” that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?” These are words that must be said.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
16 August 1967, Atlanta, Georgia

Just say no to Hillary Clinton

January 9th, 2008 – 9:03 pm
Tagged as: Politics

Whatever the reason for Hillary Clinton’s “surprising” victory in yesterday’s New Hampshire primary, I have to say I’m disappointed. I had some hope that after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire, the way would be paved for someone other than her to be the Democratic nominee. Someone I could actually vote for in the general election. As the always cutting Lenin of Lenin’s Tomb puts it:

Now, Hillary. Oh dear. I don’t know who likes her, or why, but she seems to have a reputation for liberal politics simply because the right-wing characterises her that way and subjects her to sexist attacks. A recent poll of voters found that 54% of them consider her a liberal. More hawkish than the other Democratic candidates (she seems to be competing with John McCain for the “nuts and proud of it” vote), more stridently pro-Israel than Ariel Sharon, an advocate of ‘humanitarian intervention’ who claims to have stiffened her husband’s spine over Kosovo, fiercely hostile to Iran, Clinton has nothing to recommend her as ‘liberal’. She has consistently defended her vote for the invasion of Iraq, and shows no sign of being willing to end the occupation. Her domestic policies include some rollback of the tax-breaks for the rich, a few reforms in healthcare (but not single-payer, an option she has always hated), support for the giant 700km fence construction on the US border, and support for the Patriot Act (twice). She also supports the death penalty, and has led the charge to make flag-burning punishable by a year in jail and a $100,000 fine in 2005. On education, she supports Bush’s policy of ‘No Child Left Behind’. If she is reputed as some kind of “feminist” (a “shit-kicking” one at that, according to Michael Moore), she also upholds the Genghis Khan principle, and knows when to rally round family values – no gay marriage under a Hillary Clinton imperium. They say she is disliked by Republican voters and conservative men because of her relentless liberal assault on the American way of life. The trouble is, she is disliked by almost everyone else as well. The only people who really like her are those poor, sad people who think that she and they alike are meaningfully on the liberal-left. (You should see the nauseating video on Youtube where ‘Code Pink’ antiwar women explain to a stern Hillary that ‘we know you really agree with us…’, as if). Quite how she was the ‘default’ Democrat for so long is utterly mysterious to me, because she has neither charm nor policies to offer anyone, and doesn’t even appear to have sufficient flexibility to back off the themes that most repel potential voters. Once a Goldwater Republican, her instincts always seem to take her back to that luminous era. And, poor thing, she cannot really rely on happy memories of the 1990s, since anyone who has been fucked over by Enron capitalism will recall a bit that it was fully nurtured by the same Clinton regime that was busily torturing Iraq with a genocidal sanctions campaign.

Not that he thinks much better of either Obama or Edwards, as he considers all three of the major candidates to be frauds. I can’t say that I at all disagree with that assessment either, but at least neither of the other two reaches quite the level of champion of the status-quo as the woman who still pushes DLC talking points. At least with the other two I can pretend that they might actually do some good.

John Edwards

January 2nd, 2008 – 10:22 pm
Tagged as: Politics

I quite like this one:

Presidential politics

December 30th, 2007 – 4:01 pm
Tagged as: Politics

Now that the overly-emphasized Iowa caucuses take place on the ridiculously early date of January 3rd, I suppose it’s about time for me to offer up my opinions on the 2008 primary candidates.

Let’s start with the Democrats, since that’s the primary I’ll be voting in here in Connecticut. My top three picks are:

  1. John Edwards

    He is the only one of the major candidates who consistently says things like:

    I think that if we’re going to have serious change in this country, universal health care, attacking global warming, a tax policy that works for most Americans instead of just a few, a trade policy that creates jobs instead of costing jobs, I mean, all those things are going to require us to have a president of the United States who’s tough and willing to fight these powerful corporate interests that stand between us and the change that we need.

    And I think the notion that you can sit at the table and negotiate and compromise, and these powerful interests will give away their power, I think is a fantasy. If it were true, it would have been working over the last few decades. And it does not.

    That’s a sentiment that matches up well with part of one of my favorite Frederick Douglass quotes, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” John Edwards appears to be the candidate most willing to fight for change, which is sort of disturbing considering how moderate many of his proposals actually are.

  2. Chris Dodd

    He’s my Senator, and he’s one of the few Democrats in the Senate to have shown any actual leadership during this past year, especially on issues like restoring habeas corpus and fighting against retroactive immunity for the telecom companies. I think he’d make a great President. Having said that, I think that right now he’d do even more good as the new majority leader in the Senate.

  3. Barack Obama

    He’s not Hillary Clinton. I wish I had more reason than that to like him, but his talk of using compromise and bipartisanship to bring about change rings alarm bells in my head, because he’s talking about working with a Republican party which has consistently shown that it doesn’t want to compromise on anything, ever. Plus he’s relatively inexperienced, and he hasn’t done a damned thing to demonstrate leadership on any issue during his short time in the Senate.

The Democrat I will definitely not be voting for, either in the primary or the general election, is Hillary Clinton. She’s done and said nothing to make me believe she wants to be President for any reason other than she wants to be President. She takes money from lobbyists as fast as they offer it up, and supports the “centrist” Democratic Leadership Council. She’s never really repudiated her vote authorizing the war on Iraq, and in September she voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment in support of military actions against Iran. She is exactly the sort of Democrat we don’t need as President.

As for the Republicans, I think they’re a frightening bunch of loons and liars, but I’m enjoying watching them tie themselves in knots trying to explain why Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are completely unacceptable candidates (the short answer is “because they’re not complete corporate whores”). If forced at gunpoint to pick one of them, I’d try to wrestle the gun away, and, if that failed and I was still alive, I guess I’d pick John McCain as the least offensive of the bunch, despite his being a warmonger and someone who has misrepresented himself time and time again.

That’s my senator

December 17th, 2007 – 10:17 pm

Chris Dodd fights

The hero of the day is Senator Chris Dodd, as he stopped the Senate from approving retroactive immunity for the telecom companies, at least for now:

Throughout the day Senator Dodd stood on the Senate floor and spoke out against the Bush administration’s abuse of executive powers. He spoke out against granting retroactive immunity for telecom companies who helped the Bush administration spy on Americans without warrant – noting that if we grant immunity now, we may never know the full extent of what happened behind closed doors and what arguments were used to justify warrantless surveillance.

For now, the FISA debate is over. It will come up again down the road, but for now everyone who supported Senator Dodd’s leadership against retroactive immunity and supported his promise to filibuster should be proud of their work to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.

See some of Senator Dodd’s floor speech here.

And yes, it does feel odd to actually be proud of a politician. If only the rest of the Democratic party could follow Dodd’s example.

I’m not holding my breath though.

Stress Position

November 25th, 2007 – 10:02 pm
Tagged as: Rights


The Directors approached the making of the film in a way that has never been done before, choosing to show the reality of Stress Positions in as authentic a way as possible. They filmed a person being put into Stress Positions over a 6 hour period. There is no acting on the part of the “prisoner” – his pain and anguish is for real.

Stop the D.C. Establishment

September 10th, 2007 – 7:46 pm
Tagged as: Iraq,Media,Politics

I just signed this petition to help push Congress to carry out its 2006 mandate to end the occupation in Iraq. It’s clear that our leaders, journalists, and so-called experts in DC aren’t going to do anything about this war unless they hear massive public outrage.

It’s our duty as citizens to express our anger at their open flouting of our will. Please join me by signing this petition:

http://action.openleft.com/page/petition/dc/pqk

Maybe this time it’ll work!

August 1st, 2007 – 7:26 pm
Tagged as: Rights,Terrorism

Today the news came out that the Democrats’ latest attempt to stand up to Bush involves amending the FISA act to expand the NSA’s ability to eavesdrop.

Yes, you read that right, the Democrats apparently want to let Bush have expanded wiretapping powers, because if they don’t they’re worried that the White House will claim they’re soft on terror.

They really just don’t get it, do they?

As Digby says:

I don’t know what it’s going to take to convince Democrats that trying to “out-tough” each other or especially trying to “out-tough” the GOP is always playing to the Republican’s strength — the authoritarian lizard brain. If this keeps up, by the time we get to the election, the Democratic candidate will be vying with the Republican over who will be the first to sign a new law legalizing torture for double parking. We don’t win that way, never have, never will.

It’s the same old Democrats, once again willing to throw away civil liberties in an attempt to not be seen as wimps, and letting the Republicans frame yet another issue to their advantage. Then they’ll wonder why so much of their base seems to be less than enthusiastic about getting out and voting for them in 2008.

Upgrade time

March 5th, 2007 – 8:25 pm
Tagged as: Meta

I’ve upgraded Wake Up to WordPress 2.1.2, and switched to a new theme that’s compatible with the new version (though that’ll likely get some more tweaking). Hopefully everything is now working the way it should.