Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pessimism V

Does the thundering silence around here in response to all these posts mean that you all think I'm being too hyperbolic? That maybe it's a bit much to call Democrats disgusting?

I've read outrage on many, many blogs today. For example, Charles Pierce, who calls Democrats a "worthless passel of cowards"; Digby, who says "Democrats showed they are ciphers who don't have the stones to even say a word when the most important moral issue confronting the government is being debated"; soccerdad, who points out that "Reid looks like a moron for mocking Bush and the 'Do nothing Congress' only hours before the compromise"; and Glenn Greenwald, who decries the "the completely despicable -- and quite deliberate -- disappearing act of the Democratic Party...[who] consciously absented themselves from our political dialogue because they were afraid to take any position, and opted instead to anoint John McCain as their proxy."

And from Democratic leaders themselves? I visited the sites of the Democratic Senatorial Caucus and every single Democratic Senator to collect responses. Prepare to be dazzled.

From Harry Reid:


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today on Republicans’ announcement of a deal on legislation to bring terrorists to justice.

“Democrats are united behind the need to work on a bipartisan basis to bring terrorists to justice, and to do it in a manner consistent with our laws, our values, and our national security. Hopefully, today’s press conference means that President Bush and the congressional Republican leadership have changed course and listened to numerous national security experts such as General Colin Powell. Five years after 9/11, it is time to make the tough and smart decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve.”

From Carl Levin:

Levin Statement on Military Commissions Compromise Between White House and Senate Republicans

WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., made the following statement today regarding the compromise language reached by the Administration and Senate Republicans on military commission legislation:

Senators Warner, McCain and Graham have done an admirable job of standing up to the Administration and have produced a compromise bill that, while it has a number of problems, is a substantial improvement over the language proposed by the Administration.

“One of those problems is a provision permitting the use of coerced testimony. This provision appropriately prohibits the use of statements obtained after December 30, 2005, through “cruel, unusual, or inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” but it inexplicably permits the use of statements obtained through these same methods prior to that date. This approach, which was insisted upon by the Administration, would put our own troops at risk if other countries decide to apply a similar standard and is abhorrent to American values. I support the language originally proposed by Senators Warner, McCain and Graham and approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which would exclude statements obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, without regard to when the statements were obtained.

“I also expect to work with Senators Specter and Leahy, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to address a provision that would eliminate the writ of habeas corpus for detainees in U.S. custody, even in cases where they have no alternative means to prove that they are being improperly held.”

That's it, folks. That's the list. Two. And the statements themselves are just sickening, though Carl Levin's at least expresses some ridiculous, misguided hope that two of the most egregious aspects of the compromise can be amended (although there are many more outrages he does not mention).

This exercise of sorting through all 44 Democratic Senatorial sites has made me reconsider my initial assessment of Democrats' motives. Last night I wrote that Democrats are "betting Americans care more about gas prices" than torture. But that assumes that they thought about opposing this torture bill and made a conscious decision that it was too politically risky: the brilliant leadership of a bunch of Erskine Cooneys.

Having considered it for a day, though, I now think it's clear I was being far too generous. Most of the Democratic caucus just doesn't care. Don't expect a filibuster. They're genuinely not interested.


They don't care.

With Congress planning to adjourn by Sept. 30, it is possible that last-minute snags could complicate or even prevent the bill's passage. But top Democrats in both houses indicated that they will not stand in the bill's path and risk being blamed for its demise.


If I'm going to scream at the majority who don't care, I should praise the few who do:

“They are many of us that are concerned about this habeas corpus issue,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said Wednesday before the deal was unveiled. “We don’t know what will be in the final bill, but if they (Republicans) try to remove and extinguish up to 50 pending lawsuits where prisoners who have been held for years are asking (to contest) the charges brought against them, they’ll be some of us who’ll be ready to fight that on the Senate floor.”

This being election season, as soon as a reporter heard Durbin say that, she pounced on the political angle, asking whether in the run-up to Election Day, Durbin’s stance might be “a risky strategy” for Democrats “because it might make it look like you’re siding with terrorists?”

“Standing up for the Constitution can be risky at times,” Durbin replied.


I am not going to hope. But I should be careful not to condemn the Democrats utterly before they actually do fold, even if it seems obvious that they will. If this week passes and the legislation doesn't, they will have done their job for now. From the Boston Globe.

Most Democrats appear poised to support the bill, but some say they will insist on being given more information before supporting changes to the War Crimes Act. Representative Jane Harmon, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said she will insist that the president detail the interrogation techniques he plans to approve, and provide a legal justification for each one before the intelligence committee.

I'm not going to count on it (I don't think Jane Harmon has the power to insist on anything), but they do still have a chance to rescue themselves, and us.


  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    no, i'm just studying for the LSAT in seven days. [shudder]

  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Sorry, I hadn't read past the first graf of your post before replying, and kind of exemplified the whole apathetic trivialization of torture (like the Sarah Silverman skit about finding out her favorite Starbucks drink was 500 calories, on 9/11/01).

    Lately you can see the spittle on the chins of congressional Dems salivating for a big November takeover. They're really circling their wagons, trying as hard as they can to stay on message and do whatever it takes to win.

    I can only imagine that's the calculation in each of their heads: "Once we're in charge [of one measly legislative body], we'll derail the Republicans. Which is why it's OK for me to embrace the Bushies' Idi Amin agenda. Just, you know, for the next six weeks. Then I'll reveal my true colors."

    Which, of course, never actually happens.

    The real question is: policy and ethics aside, is this even a politically winning strategy? Because if not, wow.

  • At 1:56 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Also, is that Aldrich war movie worth renting? I'd never heard of it.

  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Yeah, actually I think they're revealing their true colors right now. I really feel like for too long a lot of us have been making the calculation you describe--just wait till they get in power and they'll show their true colors--without any indication that deep down they care about this issue at all. A minority do, probably about a dozen of the Senators and I don't know how many in the House, maybe as many as a quarter, which would be about 50. Most of them don't, and they're not going to start if they get in power.

    Meanwhile, no matter what happens if they do get in power, some time in the next week our elected legislature will officially and bipartisanly ratify the use of torture in law, which is very different than the President ordering it illegally.

  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Attack! is definitely worth renting if you like war movies. Not really otherwise. I liked it.

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    As someone put it at Glenn Greenwald's blog:

    Finally, I just can't understand this argument that the Democrats are "afraid", "spineless", or too concerned about their political careers to speak out about these staggeringly crucial issues.

    Frankly, I think that is a childish argument at this point. It couldn't be clearer that what motivates the Democrats is none of those things. The Democrats don't speak out because they don't really object to these outrages. If they objected, these things never would have gotten off the ground.

    The Democrats ARE the Republicans. The only difference between the two parties has to do with social programs and tax policies which have nothing to do with the things we are talking about on this blog.

  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    If the Dems are exactly the same as the Republicans, then why is it only in this administration that we're gutting the Geneva Conventions? You're underestimating the Bushie right wing. That's Nader talk, and look where Nader talk got us in 2000.

    Yes, the Dems are not where they need to be on this. But they're not the Bushie right wing, who in their heart of hearts want to accelerate the Apocalypse.

  • At 1:13 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Sigh. You're right, of course, they're not quite as bad. That's enough for me to vote for them, but not enough to motivate me to do much else for them, and since I live in New York my vote doesn't count anyway.

  • At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's the Green Party's fault - those GOP enablers... er... shit. Now who will Bouldin blaim?

  • At 11:51 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hey, I often vote Green in local elections.

    But Nader was on an ego trip that hurt state Green parties (in addition to helping coronate Bushie).

    Just sayin'...


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