Friday, February 08, 2008

Tyrant in the White House

Hilzoy calls it exactly right. George W. Bush is now officially a tyrant. This is not hyperbole. This is textbook definition:
ty·rant (tī'rənt) Pronunciation Key n.
  1. An absolute ruler who governs without restrictions.
From the Washington Post:
The attorney general yesterday rejected growing congressional calls for a criminal investigation of the CIA's use of simulated drownings to extract information from its detainees, as Vice President Cheney called it a "good thing" that the CIA was able to learn what it did from those subjected to the practice.

The remarks reflected a renewed effort by the Bush administration to defend its past approval of the interrogation tactic known as waterboarding, which some lawmakers, human rights experts and international lawyers have described as illegal torture.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said Justice Department lawyers concluded that the CIA's use of waterboarding in 2002 and 2003 was legal, and therefore the department cannot investigate whether a crime had occurred.

"That would mean that the same department that authorized the program would now consider prosecuting somebody who followed that advice," he said.
Let me reframe that for you. George Bush asked his Department of Justice simply to declare that waterboarding detainees (as well as listening in on your telephone conversations without a warrant) was "legal," effectively giving him and his underlings a "get out of jail free" card should Congress ever try to get the Department of Justice to investigate whether the law was broken. In a nutshell, the Bush administration has twisted their influence over the DOJ such that anything they declare "legal" is for all intents and purposes, by decree, legal. In other countries we call this "tyranny." In fact, we call it tyranny here as well.

From Hilzoy's post on Obsidian Wings:

This means that if the Justice Department were sufficiently corrupt or compliant -- and does anyone want to argue that it wasn't, under Alberto Gonzales? -- the administration could do whatever it wanted without worrying its little head about the law. David Kurtz at TPM:

"We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not. (...)

President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table. This is no bluff."

He adds a note from one of his readers:

"It's not just that the Attorney General's position is that a DOJ Order makes the subject activity legal but that, as [Congressman] Nadler brought out, there is now no recourse to a judicial test, either criminal (through refusal to prosecute) or civil (through the state secrets privilege based solely on a DOJ affidavit). The DOJ is entitled to take whatever position it wants, however self-serving and unitary, but now there is no avenue for judicial review and so that is the end of the story."
You can watch the exchange between Nadler and Mukasey below. It's crystal clear that Nadler is right. There is now officially no restriction on Bush's power:

I've already written my Senator, the shameful Mr. Schumer, and let him know that I hold him personally responsible for this outrage. His support of Mukasey's nomination has brought undeniable tyranny to the United States of America.

Even more shameful, and undoubtedly the mastermind behind this trampling on the Constitution, the dark lord himself, Dick Cheney, is now free to brag about his administration's inhumanity:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday vigorously defended the use of harsh interrogation techniques on a few suspected terrorists, saying that the methods made up “a tougher program, for tougher customers” and might have averted another attack on the United States.[...] The vice president asserted that the techniques used by the C.I.A. were safe and professional...
Oh, how reassuring. We're professional torturers. Can we join the International Association of Nations that Torture People now? Maybe we can team up with Uzbekistan and North Korea at the next IANTP bowling tournament.

These people are criminal and twisted. Get them out of office and then haul their sorry asses into court!

Labels: politics, torture


Anonymous ondine-nyc said...

Frogmarch him out of the White House in chains, with Cheney in tow.

Another great post Edward.

2/08/2008 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Isn't there an uncanny resemblance between Musharraf and Bush? Impeachment is the only way.

2/08/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the International Courts have any jurisdiction here? With his hand-picked Supreme Court, justice isn't possible in this country.

But rest assured, as soon as a Democrat is President, the Supreme Court will suddenly start restricting Executive powers.

2/08/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

well Surprise, surprise, all of the presidential candidates did not vote
full senate vote roll call

But rest assured, as soon as a Democrat is President, the Supreme Court will suddenly start restricting Executive powers.

I'm expecting the newly elected President and Congress to do that.

Although I would say if anything ever got to the supreme court there would be pressure for Alito and Roberts to recuse themselves, the problem is they are doing everything they can to stay out of courts, what the Dems need to do is pass legislation to remove the legal blocks they are using.

So nothing can happen til next year.

2/08/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

In case anyone is fooled by the Republican candidates' calls for change, here's the official word from the White House - "four more years".

2/08/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next thing you know, we will be strapping bombs to the mentally retarded and sending them into crowded markets..the gall...

2/08/2008 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Next thing you know, we will be strapping bombs to the mentally retarded and sending them into crowded markets

That's a pretty good description of what we did by putting George W. Bush in the White House.

2/08/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Very good, David.

The difference, though, is that bush will walk away from the point of impact, leaving the government and the country in ruin.

P.S. We didn't put him in the White House.

2/08/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

"P.S. We didn't put him in the White House"

Oh yes we did, as a country.
Stolen vote, rigged courts, if more Americans had voted it might have made a difference.

2/08/2008 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An art project on the geography of black ops:

Give that man a show!

2/08/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Oh yes we did, as a country. Stolen vote, rigged courts, if more Americans had voted it might have made a difference.

I don't know, George. It might be wishful thinking to assume that the additional voters would be any smarter than the ones who showed up at the polls.

2/08/2008 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll bet my last Amero that Bush and Co. will go Scot free. I see jolly, happy handing all around on Clinton's inauguration day. All is forgotten, nothing to see here, move along people, move along. Only an informed and immobilized citizenry can force change and fear that only B.H. Obama can be moved by such demands of the people. Send Attorney General Edwards on their ass...

2/08/2008 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Send Attorney General Edwards on their ass...

THAT is an inspired idea. Anyone with Obama's ear, please pass it along!

2/08/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure I read the Edwards as A.G. out there in the internets somewheres but thanks anyways.

2/08/2008 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Anyone with Obama's ear, please pass it along!

Oh man, EW. That's a setup for some really bad Van Gogh jokes. I'll try to restrain myself.

2/08/2008 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

It would be great if Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and all the major players could stand trial for the war crimes they have committed and all the other crimes against humanity that have gone on for the last seven years. Alas that wont happen, and with the Congressional Democrat's acting like a bunch of scared wimps afraid to really oppose anything this administration does, come on this guy should have been impeached at least two years ago, nothing is going to change.

When I stop to think how much could have been done with the money spent in Iraq, it's just to depressing to dwell on.

McCain might be more honest than Bush, but he wants to start another 100 year war! What these idiots need to stop doing is trying to keep everyone scared, they need to read history, no civilization can sustain itself by always going to war, we will go bankrupt.

2/09/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger jeff f said...

I left out one very important player, us, the people.

I was watching NOW, which is a pretty good program on PBS that deals with issues we all should be paying attention to. Last week they interviewed people to see how they would be voting and one couple really struck a cord with me.

The couple were on the verge of losing their home to foreclosure
the husband had hepatitis C and could not work anymore, and yet they still are going to vote Republican. Why? Because of their moral beliefs. They are right to lifers, and that is how they frame their political world.

They don't see that 8 years of lax regulations has allowed banks to sell their mortgage to large investment firms.

They don't see that how new bankruptcy laws drafted by the credit card companies and passed by the Republicans when they were in the majority will affect them and keep them in servitude for the rest of their lives.
They don't see that their future is defined by cuts made to the very life line they need, Medicare, will be cut into shreds by any Republican who comes into the White house.

They only see the world through their moral lens, and it is blinding them of the reality of what it is to be middle class in this country now.

This is middle America and you can take away there home put them on the street and they will still vote for you. Amazing, it's simply amazing that no matter what almost 50% of the adult population thinks this way after 8 years of one of the worst administrations since Nixon. I hate be callous but I think we get what we deserve, if the consciousness of our countries political psyche can't be awakened by the Bush years nothing can save another great deppresion.

2/09/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

we get what we deserve because we deserve it. I like that math. Fundamentally the Republican believes we deserve what we get. It works both ways I suppose.
you get what you give. But no more.
Governments are here only to police property and deal with labor.

That this boils down in many cases to a sense of entitlement - the very thing Republican's vilify welfare moms for (among other things) - warms my ironic core to no end.

But fundamentally its an issue of identity - and its a reaction against (anecdotally) the perceived fragmentation of the world - from the somewhat abstract reality of death and entropy, to the immediate and increasing complexity of a society that requires some degree of magical thinking to navigate.

When I sat in front of a real voting machine (not a ballot box as in years past)I thought of WIlliam Burroughs, who lived a happy life courtesy of a family fortune in adding machines. I thought of landed gentry and inherited wealth. I thought of selfless sacrifice for a cause. I thought of moral courage in the face of crippling indifference. I thought and I thought and then I voted with my right hand, so that my left hand would remain pure.

Some people see everything as an attack - nothing is funny - which indeed is true, and that is why there are no sacred cows left to demolish - they practically cook themselves in their own juices.

I am amused that the political pundits of the republican right, having used the satirical and rhetorical tools of the left for monetary gain and entertainment, being aware of the absurdity of their untenable and indefensible position, still cynically cling to their moral "identity" despite the writing being writ large upon the ever lowering boat.

Drink up.

2/09/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

who are you, and what have you done with Zipthwung???? :-)

excellent assessment...thanks for taking the time to share that.

2/09/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

Does this sound relevant to anyone?

This is the first opening statement
delivered by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson
acting as the Chief of Counsel for the United States
Nuremberg, Germany
November 21, 1945

May it please Your Honors:

The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.

This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, is not the product of abstract speculations nor is it created to vindicate legalistic theories. This inquest represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of 17 more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times-aggressive war. The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which. leave no home in the world untouched. It is a cause of that magnitude that the United Nations will lay before Your Honors.
full text.

2/09/2008 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

I forgot that about 40% or more of the voting public do not believe in evolution.

All politicians see everything as an attack, the only one in this fray who seemed to hold his head above the BS was Edwards and he did not make it.

Which sucks as he was my choice.

2/09/2008 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

I forgot that about 40% or more of the voting public do not believe in evolution.

That's because they haven't enjoyed the benefits of it.

2/10/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

This is an instant classic
earlier today Bush was speaking at an event marking African-American history month at the White house.
and said:

"The era of rampant lynching is a shameful chapter in American history,"

"The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice,"

"Displaying one is not a harmless prank, and lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest."

"As a civil society, Americans should agree that noose displays and lynching jokes are "deeply offensive,"

"They are wrong. And they have no place in America today."

Does Irony live?

2/12/2008 04:09:00 PM  

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