Thursday, January 27, 2005

No to Gonzales 

From Daily Kos, where you can find other gems of wisdom, or plain old rants from me at my dKos page:

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. In this case, we, the undersigned bloggers, have decided to speak as one and collectively author a document of opposition. We oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the position of Attorney General of the United States, and we urge every United States Senator to vote against him.
As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.

In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint."

Legal opinions at the highest level have grave consequences. What were the consequences of Gonzales's actions? The policies for which Gonzales provided a cover of legality - views which he expressly reasserted in his Senate confirmation hearings - inexorably led to abuses that have undermined military discipline and the moral authority our nation once carried. His actions led directly to documented violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and widespread abusive conduct in locales around the world.

Michael Posner of Human Rights First observed: "After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should 'judge us by our actions [and] watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.'" We agree. It is because of this that we believe the only proper course of action is for the Senate to reject Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. As Posner notes, "[t]he world is indeed watching." Will the Senate condone torture? Will the Senate condone the rejection of the rule of law?

With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.
Repeat after me, everyone: Torture is bad.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I Wanted To Scream 

... but the words wouldn't come.

Bob Harris, whose blog is a great alternative voice in the world of overly intense myopic liberal blogging, was advocating a massive scream at noon today from the masses to protest the Inauguration.

And man, did I ever want to. I am so upset by his election, even knowing that we've been through bad presidents before. See Hoover, for example. Something just feels like there will be irreversible changes in the next four years, or at least changes that we'll not come back from in my lifetime. The politics of it unnerve me, but to the winner go the spoils.

However, there is more to this. It feels like an end to the politics of good faith. The beginnings can be seen in the probable use of the vaunted nuclear option by Bill Frist and Senate Republicans, but where will it stop? Our country was built around spirited political debate across deep divides of opinion, but there was always an understanding that the system would be safe as long as people were truly acting for the good of the country. In doing so, they would be willing to compromise and adapt - to find the will of the people through the haze of politics.

The Bush administration instead is focused on the politics of kill or be killed. Karl Rove is a master gamesman of this approach. His skill is unquestioned, but America was never intended as a place for cultlike devotion to one set of ideals. The next four years seem to me like a battle not just for the policy and the working concepts of governance. Instead, it is a battle for the soul of our democracy.

The lines are not exclusive to party here, but instead look to a key division: an acceptance that while you may not agree with other views, the role of our government is to do come to the best middle ground possible for as many people as possible; or the belief that your view is the only right view, and compromise is never acceptable. As Bush himself summed it up, "You're either with us or against us."

So, why couldn't I scream? I'm worried. I'm nervous about the soul of my country. I'm encouraged to see the voices of liberalism fight back, but I wonder if they have been drawn into a fool's game: some sort eternal battle between two sides, that instead of ending in compromise - as it has for over 200 years - will now end only in total defeat.

I just wonder if the stakes are too high.

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