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The Democrats' (and Elections') Sleight of Hand

By Dr. Dennis Loo  Posted by Dennis Loo (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   3 comments
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In the frenzy surrounding the elections, the major candidates are acting like magicians, hoping that their audience won't notice. I am going to focus here on Obama since he is the one most attractive to progressive minded people. (Obama, by the way, and I share some things in common - both of us attended Punahou School in Hawaii and Harvard - but that's where the similarities end.)

Obama tells us that he is on the side of the angels on the war in Iraq - he is against it - and that he's against torture and for the restoration of habeas corpus. The question you have to ask here, however, is if this so, then why hasn't he done anything about these things other than make eloquent speeches about them? He's been in the US Senate after all. He's voted for war funding to continue this immoral and unjust war and has not once used the opportunity to block - i.e., filibuster - any of the horrid bills that legalized torture and stripped habeas corpus rights from people (e.g., the Military Commissions Act of 2006).

On the telecom immunity bill that just passed the Senate, giving the major telecom companies a free pass for their express violations of the law - and FISA in particular - by bowing to the White House's February 2001 demands that the NSA be allowed to intercept all of Americans' electronic communications, Obama and the rest of the Democrats should have, but refused to filibuster the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did his obligatory bemoaning of the fact that he couldn't keep all of the Democrats in line to vote as a group against the bill. This is another element of his and Nancy Pelosi's disengenuousness and the game they're playing: they vote against bills they say they don't like (so they can say that they voted "no"), but they don't use their powers both as leaders of the chambers to block a bill from even coming to the floor and/or as individual members of Congress to filibuster it.

They don't do anything, in other words, that would actually make a difference.

The GOP hasn't been afraid to filibuster bills they don't like, yet the Democrats, our self-proclaimed saviors, won't do it. What are they afraid of?

They are afraid of precisely the thing that they claim that we should support them in fighting against: they will not take on and repudiate, they will not fight against and expose, the fundamental lie of the Bush White House - that anything and everything is acceptable, including torture, massive, illegal spying, indefinite detentions, and mass murder - in the name of "defending American lives" and in the name of "national security." In fact, the Democrats will not take on anything that vaguely hints at challenging the rightness of American Empire and American dominance and plunder.

No civil liberty, no civil right, no law, nor Constitutional provision, no international law or institution (e.g., the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the Geneva Conventions), no common human decency, and no scruple is safe from their aggressive and immoral assertions that it's okay to do monstrous things as long as you wrap it in the garb of "protecting Americans' lives and property."

This is not a slippery slope; it's a straight, dead drop off a cliff. The question we have to ask ourselves is: are we lemmings?

Are we willing to follow the immoral sleight of hand trick that the major candidates are purveying? Even if you feel that getting someone else into the White House in January 2009 is critical, are you willing to say that the daily torture and the daily new outrages of shredding any legal protections against dictatorial and fascistic actions are something that can be allowed to continue every single day for the next year?

What kind of morality is that? What kind of moral leaders tell us that something is terrible and they plan to do something about it, but we must wait another year for any action to be done about it? What kind of people are we if we aren't fighting these crimes against humanity every day? What kind of fools would we be to be taken in by speech-makers who have refused every day of their political lives to actually fight against and actually put a stop to the things they say they're against? They can't hide behind the fact that they don't have the power. They HAVE the power. They won't use it.

And if they won't use it now, as they haven't used it for the last seven years when it actually counted, then why would they use it a year from now? You don't fight against crimes against humanity when it suits you. You fight grave crimes always. If you don't, you don't deserve to claim the mantle of leadership. You should withdraw from public life and hide in a cave in shame.

Published on 2/22/08 at click here

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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)
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