Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The disappearing middle

Senator Arlen Specter's celebrated switch to the Democratic party is a bad bad thing A bad bad thing and a harbinger of bad bad things to come. The immediate result is the loss of a senate seat. Had a real Democrat won two years from now in Pennsylvania, the Democrats would have another seat. But if Specter is permitted to keep the seat as a nominal Democrat, it effectively stays Republican. As he says, changing parties won't change the way he votes. He's just betting it will change the way people vote for him. He's betting Pennsylvania Democrats are a bunch of chumps.

And given the numbers in play and the sudden change from the Constitution's simple majority to the need to have sixty votes to pass any meaningful legislation, Specter's tactical move will make it significantly more difficult for Obama to get anything progressive done--even if he is so inclined--which is not altogether certain. Specter is still a right winger. He's on record as saying he's not going to vote differently. The only change is that now he will join right wing Democrats in obstructing progress within the party. He couldn't achieve that any longer as a nominal Republican. The right wing, or in official parlance "moderate", Democrats are actually right wing Republicans. The nominal Republicans have gone so far off the deep end to have rendered themselves meaningless with their hatred and hysteria. They are no longer Republicans in any historical sense of the term. They're just a flaming bunch fucking nutzis. The right wing of the Democratic party's where the money will be made.

Let's hope netroots or somebody kicks Specter's ass in the primary and then beats him again in the general election. The general election? You know he'll pull a Lieberman if it comes to that. And if it does come to that, he'll have the support of both the Democratic and Republican organizations -- and probably the White House as well. Progressive talk is all well and good for fund raising and winning elections, but you wouldn't want to actually have the votes to implement any of it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Because God is perfectly holy, He must punish sin-- either the sinner himself, or a substitute to bear His wrath. 
-- From The Seven C's of History, a publication ofthe Creation Museum

Above all, God loves Himself and upholds His glory, and to uphold His glory as infinitely valuable requires that punishment be executed on those who profane, or disgrace, God's glory. 
-- Random wacko on the internets

Everybody writes about this, so I'll limit myself to just a few points that I don't see others making.

The primary function of torture is to punish dissent. Nazi's, Communists, Latin American strongmen, Bush's band of bad men (and Condi)... Doesn't matter. At heart, they cannot stand the idea that someone somewhere disagrees with them and when freed from all legal restraint they ache to make the dissenters pay in the worst possible ways.

It has been noted in the big media, albeit rarely, that torture is more about extracting confessions than gaining useful information. But again, those confessions, false or otherwise, are used to justify the state theology that dissent is wrong and dangerous. And I don't doubt that there is an element of sadism at the highest levels, butI think that kind of sick pathology is more abundant among those who actually carry out the torture. Still, it's not hard to imagine sick fucks like Bush and Cheney relishing in the pain of those weak, powerless peons who disagree with them. You can't deny the element of power.

The second point that is never made is that the U.S. has been a torturing nation for a long time. We have trained and otherwise enabled torturers throughout Latin America and the rest of the third world at least since the beginnings of the cold war. A lot of that is well-documented and supports my point above. There was never any ticking time bomb. 100's of thousands of people suffered horribly and many died to placate the sick egos and insecurities of the powerful. The only difference these days is that we have cut out the middle men.

Oh, we're not Argentina, they say. We're not torturing out own citizens because of their political views. Well, not yet, but now that it's all out in public and nothing will be done to the perpetrators, it's clear we're sliding down that slope. And you must know know it will be worse the next time violent Republican know-nothings come to power. If not next time, the time after. They always believe that anyone who opposes them is unpatriotic. It's a small step from unpatriotic "threat to national security." And they'll get the confessions to prove it. By torture? What of it? These are traitors we're talking about. They deserve whatever they get. You're not one of them, are you? No? That's what they all say, eh? What about your neighbor?

But what I really don't get, and maybe you can explain this to me? is why no one brings up the question of whether it's okay for foreign governments to torture Americans. Would the Republican asshats sing the same tune if Iran wore torturing confessions out of Americans. Probably not. Someone has done some good reporting to let us know that the U.S. has a history of prosecuting foreigners, even executing them, who have tortured American prisoners. Why can't Chris Matthews or any of the other prominent asshats ask that fucking question? How hard can it be?