Saturday, October 20, 2007

Winning a War

The Cheney/Bush government isn’t losing all its wars of choice. It’s winning the one against the rule of law. Much like World War II, that war has two theaters. Back then, it was the Atlantic and the Pacific. Now it’s “the homeland” and everywhere else. Cheney and Bush are winning in both of them.

As with the others, these wars are waged with Democratic help. This past week, it was the domestic war that took center stage – as the Senate Judiciary Committee slouched towards the confirmation of Michael Mukasey for the office of Attorney General. Mukasey may be less preposterous than John Ashcroft or Alberto (Fredo) Gonzales and therefore more tolerable to the likes of Chuck Schumer and Pat Leahy. But he’s on the same page as the other two. As his all but unchallenged testimony made clear, he will not take on torture, wireless surveillance, habeus corpus, preventive detention or the rest of it. He won’t even close down Guantanamo. For the good Senators, it was evidently enough that he’s aware of how “sensitive” many Bush era violations of fundamental human and citizenship rights are – as he follows in the footsteps of those who helped make them happen.

Then there was the bipartisan proposal to grant retroactive immunity from civil liability for telecom companies who turned records over to the government voluntarily – that is, without court order. All that stands in the way of full Congressional passage of that outrage is the threat by Senators Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd to filibuster the measure. All success to them: this is one of the most blatant examples of money talking – the people and their rights be damned! -- in the current Congressional session. But note that, should it come to this, Feingold and Dodd will be taking on not just the Republicans but also the leadership of their own party, and most of their fellow Democratic Senators -- including, it now seems, Hillary Clinton. On individuals’ rights and the rule of law, Democrats talk a good line, just as they do on the other Cheney/Bush wars -- now that they’ve all gone sour. But it’s just talk. When push comes to the slightest nudge, Democrats, most of them anyway, end up aiding and abetting Cheney and Bush.

Dodd’s position warrants attention because, compared to most of the other Presidential candidates, he’d not half bad. It isn’t just the “unelectable” third tier twosome, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, who take decent positions; and it isn’t just the better two-thirds of the top tier, Barack Obama and especially John Edwards, who are better (less bad) than Hillary Clinton. Bill Richardson is good on the Iraq War – better than any of them, in fact, except Kucinich and Gravel; and Dodd has been consistently good on environmental policy and on the restoration of basic rights and liberties. His filibuster threat is not out of character. I suspect that were one to look hard enough, even Joe Biden would best Hillary on many of “the issues.” Still her juggernaut roles on: as if it is written in the stars that “the worst always wins.” If that turns out to be true, it would be quite a reproach to our “democracy.” It may well turn out that way. Rudy Giuliani is counting on it.

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