Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mr. Obama, undo the Bush-era Constitutional wrongs

In 2007, the American Freedom Agenda Act (H.R. 3835) failed (never made it out of committee).

President Obama, will you commit to restoring the Constitution's checks and balances and protections against government abuses that we gave up under the Bush administration? Any future president can use them again, unless we correct these wrongs.


  • Fully restore the right to challenge the legality of one's detention, or habeas corpus, and the right of detained suspects to be charged and brought to trial.
  • Prohibit torture and all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence.
  • Prohibit the detention of anyone, including U.S. citizens, as an "enemy combatant" outside the battlefield, and on the President's say-so alone.
  • Prohibit the government from secretly breaking and entering our homes, tapping our phones or email, or seizing our computers without a court order, on the President's say-so alone.
  • Prohibit the President from "disappearing" anyone and holding them in secret detention.
  • Prohibit the executive from claiming "state secrets" to deny justice to victims of government misdeeds, and from claiming "executive privilege" to obstruct Congressional oversight and an open government.
  • Prohibit the abuse of signing statements, where the President seeks to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills.
  • Use the federal courts, or courts-martial, to charge and prosecute terrorism suspects, and close Guantanamo down.
  • Reaffirm that the Espionage Act does not prohibit journalists from reporting on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution.

Mr. Obama, fill the leadership vacuum

We're ready. Take our hand. Lead us. Ruffle some feathers. Rattle some cages. Take names and kick ass if you have to, but for god's sake, do it already.

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd in Less Spocky, More Rocky - September 8, 2009:

In the absence of more vivid presidential leadership, the Democrats have reverted to their old DNA — self-destructive scrapping and spending. And the Republicans are sticking to theirs — being mean-spirited and shameless, attacking big government spending while taking no blame for their own.

The longer this vacuum goes unfilled, the more it will be occupied by the crazies and nutjobs.

Come on Mr. President, the country is ready and willing to be led - hungry for leadership, even. Make hay while the sun shines.

Republicans exercise childish behavior at their own peril

The Republicans appear to have taken a page from the second grade school yard playbook. Their deep hatred for Obama and anger over losing the Congressional majority has taken their head out of the game. It's no longer about the message, but the messenger. Even when Obama recasts a G.O.P proposal, the Republicans still refuse to support it. As NY Times columnist Bob Herbert recently said "The entire Republican Party has decided that it is in favor of absolutely nothing." If Obama proposed "Sunshine in the morning, Harry Reid couldn’t persuade a single Senate Republican to vote yes."

But this childish approach is going to backfire. Democrats will eventually be forced to say "if you want to pout in the corner, so be it" and they will move on without Republican involvement. It's the self-fulfilling prophecy the Republicans were afraid of before the election - now they're going to get it, if they don't get over themselves and start participating again.

And it's not just hurting the Republicans themselves. It's hurting all of us:

  1. Democrats will have to load bills with old-school pork to get enough votes without the G.O.P.
  2. The end result will be even greater division in the country
Come on Republicans, buck up and get back in the game - the country needs you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Van Jones isn’t nearly as nutty or “anti-American” as most of the folks asking for his head

The Jones appointment is being criticized on the left as dubious and poorly vetted but hardly a threat to the nation. On the right it’s being treated with a hysteria that is as crazy as the craziest of the 9/11 “truthers.” “Truthers” are a fringe among liberals. But among the right, utterly crackpot, dishonest and insanely demagogic ranters have become legion, promoted, widely praised and even granted leadership roles.

Jones is not high on my radar – he’s a better appointment – not as crazy and likely more competent – than a couple of dozen aides to Bush. The hyper-platitudinous, Twilight Zone-inhabiting Christian Right was handed thousands of square feet of executive office space by Rove. As were disastrous cronies and hacks like Harriet Meiers, Al Gonzales and the notorious “Brownie.”

It’s okay in conservative circles to argue that FDR deliberately let Pearl Harbor get hit. It’s okay in conservative circles to argue that FDR deliberately sold out Eastern Europe to Stalin at the behest of his Red State Department. It’s okay, among the pundit class, to become a one-man “1939 Truth Commission” like Pat Buchanan, arguing that Hitler had no designs on greater Europe until he was provoked by…uh…Churchill, or something. It’s okay in right-blogosphere circles and on pundit lists to call for rounding up Americans on the basis of their ethnicity, like Michelle Malkin. But a guy who is assigned to develop strategies for Green Energy can’t ever have questioned whether Bush let 9/11 happen. It's a damned shame.

I’m inclined to defend Jones just because the people who are calling for his head are such outrageous, despicable scum. Reason enough. These creeps want an all-out partisan war. Fine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009