Apr. 28th, 2009

frandroid: Stephen Colbert giving a thumbs up in from of the American Flag (Colbert)
Democratic complicity and what "politicizing justice" really means [Glenn Greenwald]

Most people who have spent the last several years (rather than the last several weeks) vehemently objecting to the Bush administration's rampant criminality have been well aware of, and quite vocal about, the pervasive complicity of many key Democrats in this criminality. Just to cite two examples, here is my December, 2007 post entitled "Democratic complicity in Bush's torture regime", and here is another from July, 2008, arguing that Democrats have blocked investigations into Bush crimes because of how it would implicate them; quoting The New Yorker's Jane Mayer as saying that "many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised"; and quoting Jonathan Turley as saying (on Keith Olbermann's program) that "the Democrats have been silently trying to kill any effort to hold anyone accountable because that list could very well include some of their own members."

The reality is exactly the opposite (as usual) of what is being depicted in our media discussions. The call for criminal investigations of torture and other forms of government criminality is the most apolitical and non-partisan argument one can make. The ones who are trying to politicize the justice system and exploit the rule of law for partisan
[...]
That torture is a serious felony certainly is a "stubborn, inconvenient fact." Even the Bush-enabling Washington Post Editorial Page today points out that "American officials condoned and conducted torture"; "Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general of the United States, has stated flatly that it is illegal"; and "in a country founded on the rule of law, a president can't sweep criminality away for political reasons, even the most noble." I hope Obama loyalists study that last sentence and digest it.
[...]
Nonetheless, as they have done for years, Democratic leaders continue to lead the way in shielding Bush crimes from scrutiny and stifling public disclosure of what was done. Obama met yesterday with Congressional leaders and emphatically argued against the establishment of a Truth Commission, insisting that such an inquiry would interfere with his political agenda. Senate Majority "Leader" Harry Reid then dutifully and obediently announced that Senate Democrats will block any such investigations in favor of a Senate Intelligence Committee proceeding that will occur largely in secret and will not be completed until the end of the year, at least (I remember when Democrats used to mock GOP leaders for having Dick Cheney come to Congress and give them their marching orders). Democratic Congressional leaders are doing now what they did throughout the Bush presidency: namely, pretending to oppose what was done while doing everything possible to protect and enable it and shield the wrongdoers from scrutiny (in large part because some of the wrongdoing was by their own party).
[...]
Just to underscore how continuously Democrats are complicit in thwarting the rule of law in the United States: one of Obama's most impressive and rule-of-law-defending appointees, Dawn Johnsen, has had her nomination as OLC Chief blocked for months by the Right, and the office of a key Democratic Senator -- Ben Nelson -- just told Greg Sargent that Nelson "is all but certain to vote against Johnsen," substantially increasingly the GOP's chances of preventing her from becoming head of the OLC. That's our bipartisan Washington establishment in a nutshell: key Bush torture architects such as John Rizzo and Bush intelligence policy defenders such as John Brennan are able to remain in positions of high power in the Obama administration, while those, like Johnsen, who want accountability for government crimes are considered fringe, extremist and unfit for office.


The Conscience of the Obama Administration, Paul Krugman, strikes again: [nytimes.com]
It’s hard, then, not to be cynical when some of the people who should have spoken out against what was happening, but didn’t, now declare that we should forget the whole era — for the sake of the country, of course.

Sorry, but what we really should do for the sake of the country is have investigations both of torture and of the march to war. These investigations should, where appropriate, be followed by prosecutions — not out of vindictiveness, but because this is a nation of laws.

We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.
frandroid: large crowd of indian women (south asia)
(from @_M_I_A_)

I went to the Tamil protest that is blocking University Avenue since Sunday at the American Consulate. I'd say that there were about 500 to 1000 Tamils there chanting non-stop. There was a sea of Tamil Tiger and American flags, with some Canadian flags in between. The protest's emphasis is to ask Obama to get involved. The protest is still going; the organizers say that they will not leave until there is a ceasefire. There was a lot of very long banners; you could ring the whole protest with them. Strangely enough, jute rope has been deployed in many places, kind of creating a pen on the street. There was a sound system broadcasting the cheerleadering from one guy in particular, but there were a lot of megaphones and some subsections of the protest were going at their own beat. Actually, the north end was the densest part of the protest, where drummers were keeping the energy and the spirits higher. All the chants were of the very short call and answer variety, such as "Canada - Break the silence" "Must stop - Genocide" "Our Leader - Prabhakaran" "Tamil Timers - Freedom fighters" "Obama - Free the Tamils" "Rajapakse - War criminal" and more stuff about Tamils and Tamil Eelam. You can guess which slogans I was selective in responding to.

The cops have moved the protesters away from the south-bound lane this morning, as University has three hospitals and the avenue is a major access point. There was one row of about 6 cops on horseback at one end of the protest, and other pods of 4-5 cops are various ends of the protest. In spite of huge aggravation from drivers, the cops are not moving the protest out, as it is legal and non-violent.

I'm kind of conflicted about it, even if I went; it's quite clear that the Tigers are losing badly, with the SL Army claiming that they're boxed in an area of 10 square miles or so. If Prabhakaran is indeed there and needs to escape, a ceasefire is absolutely necessary for him right now. Personally, I think Tamils could do a lot better without the Tigers; at the "with us or against us" and "speaking with guns" game, you can rarely win against the state. The kind of absolute loyalty demanded of Tamils towards the Tigers belies the same kind of reductive view that made Tamils a persecuted minority in the first place. A poster was condemning the Sri Lankan Government and Indian, in particular the Congress Party, with a picture of Gandhi; while Congress has not been a particularly friendly with the Sri Lankan Tamils, I think they don't necessarily need to toss Gandhi with the rest of the bathwater. But then, what history do I know?

I was one of about 5 non-Tamils protesting. Where's everyone else? Although I don't think that the Tamils are particularly good at outreach or solidarity with other people. Not that many people want to see Tiger flags appear at their protests, either. This is all so insular. (No pun intended.)

I was asked many times to call the White House to ask the United States to get involved. I'm thinking of doing it and recording it to see how that works out.

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