Bush Personally Authorized Torture?

Check it out. The CIA has admitted it has legal documents signed by George W. Bush “that have guided the agency’s interrogation and detention of terror suspects.” The documents themselves have not yet been released, but according to the article in the NY Times, one of the documents is “a directive signed by President Bush granting the C.I.A. the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees.” I guess we’ll find out soon enough if the leader of the USA is a criminal.

Carville Should Shut the Hell Up

I’ve usually agreed with James Carville’s take-no-prisoners method of going after Republicans. Carville has always felt that Democrats need to speak up and speak out strongly against GOP policies whenever they have the chance. He’s written several books on the subject, even drawing up talking points for liberals to use at local barbeques where they might run into family members who would argue that Bush is the second coming personified.

On another point, I’ve always liked Harold Ford Jr., the candidate who lost his election bid for Senator in the Tennessee race against Bob Corker. Well, always liked him until he spoke out in 2002 (or 2004, I can’t remember) when the Republicans handily trounced the Democrats and said that America took a huge shift to the right, and that the conservative wing of the Democratic party needed to assert itself in light of the losses. To my eye, it seemed as if the problem with the Democratic candidates in those elections was that they were running as “Republicans Lite,” and the issue was that as long as Democrats behaved like Republicans, America would find no reason to vote for them. My argument was that Democrats hadn’t run on the Democratic “moral values” that they did successfully in the 2006 elections. In hindsight, America was still voting “fear of terrorism” and “security,” and the voters were still buying that the GOP could keep them safe. Before America could hear anything about the economy, healthcare, education, etc., it needed to be a few years into a horrible war and it needed the GOP and Bush administration scandals to blossom. That finally happened this year, and voters sent a message repudiating government corruption and the Iraq Occupation.

While America voted against Bush and the Occupation, it remains to be seen whether or not it also voted for the Democratic agenda. One might argue that since America voted for Democrats who were espousing such things as cutting student loan interest rates, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, raising the minimum wage to $7.25, and other traditionally liberal ideals, that is what America wanted. The right-wing radio hatemongers claim that it’s only because Democrats ran more conservative candidates across the country that they won this cycle. So I guess the question is, did America finally vote for the best interests of the middle-class, and for “draining the swamp” of corruption? Or did it only vote for the GOP alternative as a combination of protest and the belief that these new Democrats were more like their Republican counterparts when it came to policy?

I would believe the former, and that the Democrats are on probation. Right-wing hatemongers seem to believe the latter, and now it seems so does James Carville. In this article from Salon.com, Thomas F. Schaller asks the question, “Do Democrats need the South?” In that article, Schaller notes that Carville is offering that Harold Ford Jr. should replace Howard Dean as DNC chairperson. If anything, I would agree with this other article from Salon that would indicate the 2006 elections were a vindication of Dean and his misson to revive the Democratic party on a state-by-state level.

I guess I was just shocked that a self-professed liberal like Carville would advocate turning the Democratic party over to its more conservative members. Now that I think about it though, the Clintons are pretty tight with Carville of course, and with Hillary being one of the key members of the DLC, I guess it’s not so surprising after all. With America so sharply criticizing the Iraq Occupation, Hillary certainly can’t continue on the path she has carved out for herself on the Iraq front — meandering almost lock-step with the (p)resident on the so-called “war on terror” — if she intends to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2008. So maybe this is just Carville testing the waters to see how much power the DLC will actually hold in the party after these 2006 elections? After all, it’s not like Hillary or Bill or Joe Liebermann could came out and offer that Ford should replace Dean as DNC chair. I’d guess it’s a favor for an old friend.

The real question is, should we be so quick to start the internal power grabbing this soon after an election? I think Mr. Carville might want to re-think his strategy here. Although I’m all for letting people have their say, the right-wing is watching the Democrats very carefully for any sign of discontent or intra-party ideological fissures and I think right now, it’s time for Carville to shut the hell up… At least for a little while.

Rush Feeling Sad and Guilty?

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh claimed that given Tuesday’s election results, he felt “liberated” that he didn’t have to “carry water” for those Republicans who don’t deserve to have their water carried for them. Does this mean Limbaugh will now stop the hateful rhetoric, or does it just mean he is trying to cover for his outrageous and disgusting display regarding the Michael J. Fox commercials? Claire McCaskill, who won her bid for Missouri Senator on Tuesday, even went so far as to credit Limbaugh for the sudden inrush of cash pledged to her campaign following the Fox vs. Rush controversy. Time will tell whether this is just guilt, or if he really is going to turn over some new leaf. He always says he’s just a big teddy bear. Now is his chance to show it. How about you become a moderate conservative, Rush? How about you attack the Democrats only when they really deserve it? And there are bound to be those who will deserve it. How about being an equal-opportunity critic? How about criticizing anyone who doesn’t hold down traditional conservative values? You could do it for the good of the country, Rush… You really could.

I listened to Sean Hannity for a few minutes during lunch. This guy is just pure poison. The words coming out of his mouth were pure and utter hatefulness and negativity. I actually felt kind of sad for him. It’s as if he knows no other way. He started going on about how this conciliatory talk is going to be temporary, just wait and see… Pelosi will start showing her true colors. Liberalism is an evil that is going to wreck the country. The Democrats are all about entitlements, and won’t give a damn about national security. Yeah, Sean… That’s why one of Pelosi’s “First 100 Hour Goals” is implementing all of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. Hannity did not even mention that as one of Pelosi’s goals when he spoke about the others. Instead he went on about how the Democrats will try to put through government-sponsored health care again, and it will be the end of the party because it was such a disaster last time. The Democrats will overplay their hand and misinterpret the election. On and on it went. He mentioned Reagan’s name at least six or seven times. Reagan conservatism. It seems like Reagan conservatism isn’t too far from what we’ve experienced over the last six years, so I think if Hannity is going to go looking for a model to turn this thing around, Reagan is probably not the one he should model his new party after. Let’s do a little checklist to see how similar these two administrations are… Record deficits? Check. Massive military spending with little oversight? Check. Scandal? Hmmmm… Trading arms for hostages, check.

Hannity also spoke about how since Democrats had won, there was no talk about stealing elections and that there were no complaints about voting issues, and that Democrats would never have been this honorable in defeat. Well, if I recall correctly, it was Bush who first filed court papers over the 2000 election. And remember when the GOP sent buses of operatives to Miami-Dade county to stage a protest outside the recount room and intimidate vote counters? At the time, Bush recount spokesperson Jim Wilkinson said there was nothing orchestrated about the protest. Later, of course, we found out that the whole damn thing was staged. The Washington Post printed this screen grab from the video of the event and listed the following people as being in the picture:

  1. Tom Pyle, policy analyst, office of House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).
  2. Garry Malphrus, majority chief counsel and staff director, House Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice.
  3. Rory Cooper, political division staff member at the National Republican Congressional Committee.
  4. Kevin Smith, former House Republican conference analyst and more recently of Voter.com.
  5. Steven Brophy, former aide to Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.), now working at the consulting firm KPMG.
  6. Matt Schlapp, former chief of staff for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), now on the Bush campaign staff in Austin.
  7. Roger Morse, aide to Rep. Van Hilleary (R-Tenn.).
  8. Duane Gibson, aide to Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) of the House Resources Committee.
  9. Chuck Royal, legislative assistant to Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
  10. Layna McConkey, former legislative assistant to former Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot (R-Iowa), now at Steelman Health Strategies.

So let’s not kid ourselves about who complains when things don’t go their way, OK Sean?

How about this, Sean. Instead of getting on the radio and preparing your loyal listeners for the horrible reality of liberal rule, where the “conservative Democrats” will not get a seat at the table, how about taking a wait-and-see attitude? Isn’t that what you and Bush asked us Democrats to do when your party swept into power? I see how different it is when the shoe is on the other foot. I guess doing this wouldn’t make good radio, right Sean? I think the question you have to ask yourself is, which is more important? My ratings or my integrity?

Hmmm… I think we discovered the answer to that question the day you arrived in talk radio.

Conservatives Rethink, Regroup

If the right-wing blogs and hate radio is to be believed, there is change brewing within the group of Americans who consider themselves Republican. There is talk that their party has been hijacked by a group of greedy politicians whose only concerns were to make life easier for them and their friends, and to keep power. Everything else was on the table, for sale to the highest bidder. If the right-wing blogs and hate radio is to be believed, this is the end of the neo-conservative “movement,” the movement that John Dean actually calls “Authoritarianism,” and that, my friends, is a very good thing.

This government was not interested in furthering the goals of conservatism, it was interested only in dismantling the social gains that have been made for ordinary citizens in the past several decades. This government passed supposedly sweeping education reform, then failed to fund it. It raised interest rates on student loans. It was apparently not concerned that our country was falling behind in the global community when it came to educating our children. This government made it harder for people when they became ill. We’ve all heard the statistics about what percentage of people who declared bankruptcy had health insurance when they became ill, then lost it and eventually lost their life savings as well. Instead of fixing this situation and helping people who were suffering with catestrophic health care issues, this government passed legislation that made it more difficult for these people to get a fresh start if and when they became well again. This government outsourced our jobs, allowed corporations to hand the ticket to the Federal Reserve when they couldn’t pay their promised pensions to retirees, and expanded government faster than any administration I can remember. This government, using the Terry Schiavo case as a platform, tried to pry its way into the personal decisions on life and death that families have to make every day. There are endless further topics along the same lines.

This is not conservative government.

The good news is that most of these right-wing blogs and even hate radio to a certain extent, is taking stock of where the conservative movement is right now, and is reevaluating what conservative government should look like. What I am hearing are points on which many conservatives and liberals such as myself can agree.

Government should be open and there should be a clear debate of all proposed laws and policies. Only the best ideas should get clearance. If we liberals fully believe in our ideals, we should not be afraid to put them on the table and to have them completely ripped apart and analyzed. If they are truly the best ideas and ideals, they will survive. If they are not, they will be shaped by conservatives and liberals alike into something that is best for this country. Perhaps the greatest weakness of the Bush administration was to close itself off to the best ideas and the best people because of fear or loyalty.

I think most modern liberals would also agree with the often-used phrase, “the government that governs best is the government that governs least.” It’s time to shrink government again. This was one of Clinton’s big goals in the early years of his presidency, and he was effective in reducing the size of government from the increases of the Reagan years. Since George W. Bush was installed by the Supreme Court, America has once again arrived at a point where it believes that the government is doing way too much.

Right-wing hate radio and FOX News has convinced most Americans that liberals are something they really are not. We have been demonized for almost two decades now, and with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and with hate radio having pegged her as a “San Francisco Liberal,” I hope America will see what a true liberal is. Contrary to popular thought, Nancy Pelosi will NOT have a problem with these “new conservative Democrats” that the right-wing hatemongers are claiming brought the Dems to victory in the House and Senate. This IS where the modern Democratic party is. I am perhaps more liberal than the modern Democratic party, but I have no problem with candidates being elected that oppose abortion or believe in the death penalty. They have a right to carry their constituents’ voices to Congress as much as any other representative. As a party though, we fight as a group to make both of these procedures unnecessary. Democrats are united on Pelosi’s “first 100 hours” issues — conservative and liberal Democrats alike. We welcome and encourage spirited debate.

It will be debated in the coming weeks and months whether or not America voted for investigations on Tuesday, but they certainly voted for change. Like many other Americans, I hope that change brings reconciliation between the two parties, and softer rhetoric. We’ll always have our differences, but contrary to the events of the past six years, we should put all these differences on the table, and have at it. Stonewalling the other side only serves to push the country backward. Many are talking cooperation after this election. We’ll see how long that spirit holds. The Democrats would do well to properly interpret the results of this election. People didn’t vote Democrat, they voted Change. If the Democrats bring real meaningful change to Washington, next election people will vote FOR Democrats.

In the meanwhile, I hope all the talk about conservatives reclaiming their party is true. Their party was hijacked, and then it was betrayed by these fake conservatives. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have sold true conservatives a fake bill of goods. Hopefully they’re the first ones thrown to the wolves now that the new conservative revolution (“conservative revolution?” what an oxymoron that is, eh?) appears near.I have a feeling that if true conservatives regain control of the Republican party, we can all start the real healing process that will bring this country back together again.

I am very hopeful this reconciliation started on Tuesday. I am happy the Democrats won, yes, but I am more happy that at least temporarily, both sides seem to be saying the right thing and trading olive branches.

One More Thing…

When people like Ann Coulter claim that there is no mandate for the Democrats because the Dems traditionally take many more seats during the sixth year of a Republican presidency, she is not taking into account one very important component of this whole equation. Redistricting over the past few years had virtually ensured a Republican majority for a long, long time. As soon as the Republicans came to power, they started drawing lines down their local maps that would tilt the deck in their favor. Not only that, but the Republicans had behind them several mechanisms that virtually ensured victory. The conservative thinktanks that were established over the last thirty years or so were largely credited for shaping American views on the nature of conservatism vs. liberalism. Right-wing radio has reigned supreme for the past decade, although its collective ratings have been slipping as of late. A national television news channel formulated to report and/or spin stories favorable to the neo-cons was tops in all-news television. All these things and more were conspiring against Democrats in yesterday’s election. Yet it still wasn’t enough.

If Bush was able to claim a mandate after the 2000 and 2004 elections, the Democrats can certainly claim a mandate now. It would do them well, however, not to overplay that hand and remember that America did not necessarily vote “Democrat” this election cycle, they voted “change.”

I am incredibly and especially proud today to be an American. Despite one party’s attempts to control the message, to claim a mandate when the majority of Americans truly believe in liberal ideals, to attempt to grab power that the Founding Fathers never intended them to have, American citizens stood up in extremely large numbers and claimed, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

We woke up yesterday, and not a moment too soon.