Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Better Late than Never!

So, Clearer Heads Should Prevail!

My heroes Krugman and Herbert are on the same page as it were. So, I must post what they have to say, as America is, and what it supposedly stands for, is in question. Oh, where are we going? Democracy is endangered.

So this is Krugman, from his Worse Than Fiction column(you'll have to pay to read it there):

“I've been thinking of writing a political novel. It will be a bad novel because there won't be any nuance: the villains won't just espouse an ideology I disagree with - they'll be hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels.

In my bad novel, a famous moralist who demanded national outrage over an affair and writes best-selling books about virtue will turn out to be hiding an expensive gamblinghabit. A talk radio host who advocates harsh penalties for drug violators will turn out to be hiding his own drug addiction.

In my bad novel, crusaders for moral values will be driven by strange obsessions. One senator's diatribe against gay marriage will link it to "man on dog" sex. Another will rant about the dangers of lesbians in high school bathrooms.

In my bad novel, the president will choose as head of homeland security a "good man" who turns out to have been the subject of an arrest warrant, who turned an apartment set aside for rescue workers into his personal love nest and who stalked at least one of his ex-lovers.

In my bad novel, a TV personality who claims to stand up for regular Americans against the elite will pay a large settlement in a sexual harassment case, in which he used his position of power to - on second thought, that story is too embarrassing even for a bad novel.

In my bad novel, apologists for the administration will charge foreign policy critics with anti-Semitism. But they will be silent when a prominent conservative declares that"Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan"support the troops" to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor.

The secretary of defense - another "good man," according to the president - won't even bother signing letters to the families of soldiers killed in action.

Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.

How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronymIokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

The public became unwilling to believe bad things about those who claim to be defending the nation against terrorism. And the hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels of the right, empowered by the public's credulity, have come outin unprecedented force.

Apologists for the administration would like us to forget all about the Kerik affair, but Bernard Kerik perfectly symbolizes the times we live in. Like Rudolph Giuliani and,yes, President Bush, he wasn't a hero of 9/11, but he played one on TV. And like Mr. Giuliani, he was quick to cash in, literally, on his undeserved reputation.

Once the New York newspapers began digging, it became clearthat Mr. Kerik is, professionally and personally, a realpiece of work. But that's not unusual these days among people who successfully pass themselves off as patriots and defenders of moral values. Mr. Kerik must still be wondering why he, unlike so many others, didn't get awaywith it.

And Alberto Gonzales must be hoping that senators don't bring up the subject.

The principal objection to making Mr. Gonzales attorneygeneral is that doing so will tell the world that America thinks it's acceptable to torture people. But his confirmation will also be a statement about ethics.

As White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales was charged with vetting Mr. Kerik. He must have realized what kind of man he was dealing with - yet he declared Mr. Kerik fit to oversee homeland security.

Did Mr. Gonzales defer to the wishes of a president who wanted Mr. Kerik anyway, or did he decide that his boss wouldn't want to know? (The Nelson Report, a respectednewsletter, reports that Mr. Bush has made it clear to hissubordinates that he doesn't want to hear bad news aboutIraq.)

Either way, when the Senate confirms Mr. Gonzales, it willmean that Iokiyar remains in effect, that the basic rulesof ethics don't apply to people aligned with the rulingparty. And reality will continue to be worse than anyfiction I could write.”

So, then in case you didn’t get it there was Mr. Herbert(also NYTimes):

”January 7, 2005


If the United States were to look into a mirror right now, it wouldn't recognize itself. The administration that thumbed its nose at the Geneva Conventions seems equally dismissive of such grand American values as honor, justice, integrity, due process and the truth.

So there was Alberto Gonzales, counselor to the president and enabler in chief of the pro_torture lobby, interviewing on Capitol Hill yesterday for the post of attorney general, which just happens to be the highest lawenforcement office in the land. Mr. Gonzales shouldn't be allowed anywhere near that office. His judgments regarding the detention and treatment of prisoners rounded up in Iraq and the so_called war on terror have been both unsound and shameful. Some of the practices that evolved from his judgments were appalling, gruesome, medieval. But this is the Bush administration, where incompetence and outright failure are rewarded with the nation's highest honors. (Remember the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded last month to George Tenet et al.?)

So not only is Mr. Gonzales's name being stenciled onto the attorney general's door, but a plush judicial seat is being readied for his anticipated elevation to the Supreme Court. It's a measure of the irrelevance of the Democratic Party that a man who played such a significant role in the policies that led to the still_unfolding prisoner abuse and torture scandals is expected to win easy Senate confirmation and become attorney general. The Democrats have become the 98_pound weaklings of the 21st century.

The Bush administration and Mr. Gonzales are trying to sell the fiction that they've seen the light. In answer to a setup question at his Judiciary Committee hearing, Mr. Gonzales said he is against torture. And the Justice Department issued a legal opinion last week that said "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms." What took so long? Why were we ever _ under any circumstances _ torturing, maiming, sexually abusing and even killing prisoners? And where is the evidence that we've stopped?

The Bush administration hasn't changed. This is an administration that believes it can do and say whatever it wants, and that attitude is changing the very nature of the United States. It is eroding the checks and balances so crucial to American_style democracy. It led the U.S., against the advice of most of the world, to launch the dreadful war in Iraq. It led Mr. Gonzales to ignore the expressed concerns of the State Department and top military brass as he blithely opened the gates for the prisoner abuse vehicles to roll through.

There are few things more dangerous than a mixture of power, arrogance and incompetence. In the Bush administration, that mixture has been explosive. Forget the meant_to_be_comforting rhetoric surrounding Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings. Nothing's changed. As detailed in The Washington Post earlier this month, the administration is making secret plans for the possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists who will never even be charged. Due process? That's a laugh. Included among the detainees, the paper noted, are hundreds of people in military or C.I.A. custody "whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts." And there will be plenty more detainees to come.

Who knows who these folks are or what they may be guilty of? We'll have to trust in the likes of Alberto Gonzales or Donald Rumsfeld or President Bush's new appointee to head the C.I.A., Porter Goss, to see that the right thing is done in each and every case. Americans have tended to view the U.S. as the guardian of the highest ideals of justice and fairness. But that is a belief that's getting more and more difficult to sustain.

If the Justice Department can be the fiefdom of John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales, those in search of the highest standards of justice have no choice but to look elsewhere. It's more fruitful now to look overseas. Last month Britain's highest court ruled that the government could not continue to indefinitely detain foreigners suspected of terrorism without charging or trying them. One of the justices wrote that such detentions "call into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention." That's a sentiment completely lost on an Alberto Gonzales or George W. Bush.”

We, as Americans, have totally made America a sad place and a place where the rule of law is inconsistent with the U. S. Constitution. I am humbled.


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