Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Nuremburg Trials.

How ironic that on the 60th anniversary of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, the Senate should pass their torture bill with provisions that attempt to protect interrogators working for the CIA and the Department of Defense from any repercussions for using illegal methods or to find ways to keep the 1996 War Crimes Act from applying to post-Sept. 11 actions.

By a 65-34 vote, the Senate approved legislation establishing military tribunals and empowering Bush to set guidelines for aggressively interrogating suspects without violating international prohibitions on prisoner abuse.

Even more ironic, last night I was watching a production of the play And Then They Came For Me. I was very impressed with the talk after the show, that included the presence of Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss--who is one of the characters in the play. One of the things she spoke about was never feeling that these things were dealt with in the past, they exist now, all around us. She spoke about Darfur, and the turmoil in the Middle East.

Frequently you hear the Republicans shout about the hysterical desperation of the Democrats who attempt to liken their efforts at governing and President Bush to the events that led to the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler.

You must have your blind eye buried in the sand like an ostritch if you can not see the relevant comparisons. Secret camps, secret arrests, secret police, domestic spying, encouraging the public to inform on each other, torture, limitations on dissent, erosions of freedom, increased nationalism tied to a single political party, linking domestic opposition to a nebulous enemy which does not have a state, and a leader who is the sole arbiter of what is and is not legal.

Just as with Hitler's exploitation of the Reichstag fire, we in America have been whipped into a frenzy with the September 11th attacks. We are constantly encouraged in our fear, and that fear is expertly manipulated to justify any measure, any act, to the point where it is now un-American not to support un-American actions we would never tolerate in our leaders otherwise. Where Hitler exploited the national fear of communists and Jews, we are warned by Republicans and talk radio pundits of the efforts of liberals and Muslims who seek to destroy this country from within.

That fear is used to eliminate opposition to the President, close our borders, push for national photo ID cards, support for secret prisons, placing interrogators above repercussion for illegal methods of interrogation, and to make advocacy for the rule of law and proper criminal procedures be perceived as weak and giving aid to the "enemy."

The defendants at Nuremburg said in their defense that they had changed the laws and acted according to the new laws.

They claimed that what they did was legal. Technically, it was.

We, and the rest of the world rejected that defense. In 1946, everyone knew exactly what torture was. No one was confused about what outrages against human dignity meant. The world stood up and took action to prevent any nation from perpetrating, even by technically legal national policy, outrages against human dignity for any reason, including guarding against presumed threats against national security.

We are constantly told by this administration that nothing is more dangerous to the nation than not "staying the course."

Staying the course means increasing instability in the Middle East, decreasing the respect and admiration of the rest of the world, further undermining the rule of law, 800 to 900 attacks a week against our forces in Iraq, increasing the number and desire of jihadists who are plotting against us, decreasing the safety of our people at home and abroad, deepening our national debt, further eroding the very freedoms we claim to be defending, and continuing to weaken our ability to respond to future threats. Staying the course means continuing to accept the increasing power of an imperial presidency and the erosion of the relevance of the other two branches of government designed to provide the necessary checks and balances for a successful democracy. Staying the course means less certainty about the election process and verified results. Staying the course means greater influence of corporations and diminishing influence of what is called the "mythical little guy" by this administration. Staying the course means continued deception, misrepresentation, secrecy, and lies rather than the oversight Congress is mandated by the constitution to provide. Staying the course means continued reliance on "body language" and "instinct" by this President in making decisions rather than thoughtful examination of factual evidence and honest consideration of opposing viewpoints prior to taking action.

I believe that nothing is more dangerous to this nation than not taking a new direction. Even Osama bin Laden said that his fundamental plan was "...Continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." Just like Reagan wanted to spend the Soviet Union into Oblivion. You'd think that when bin Laden is taking a page from the Reagan playbook that Republicans might be able to recognize it. But...This is not an administration founded on either perception or congitive ability.

I don't hate America, I miss it.

I don't hate George Bush, I hate what he has done to destroy the country I once was so proud to call my homeland.

Please, for the love of both God and country, think deeply about what you vote for this November. Vote for wisdom, debate, honesty, open government, freedom from corruption. Vote for democracy. Vote for checks and balances. Vote for a return to the governmental system designed by our forefathers. Vote for sanity. Vote for oversight. Vote for accountability. Vote for a return to consequences and a departure from impunity.

You can't have that in a one party system. Vote for the Democratic candidate in your election. Only by doing that will we get the responsibility and accountability that George Bush promised in the 2000 campaign.

My old Methodist minister used to say that Laws without Punishment are just good advice. Why would you vote for the party that is going to allow George Bush to claim he isn't doing anything illegal, but just in case he is going to push for legislation to make anything he might have done that was considered illegal, retroactively legal?

Why would you support a party who believes it is OK to go even further in their defense than those in the dock at Nuremburg? At least they bothered to change the laws they wanted to break BEFORE they broke them.

It is time to ask yourself, what kind of government do you deserve, America? Because that is the government you are going to get.