Thursday, September 28, 2006

Land of the Free Torturers and Home of the Brave Cowardly

I don't really have anything to add to the chorus of voices decrying the imminent abandonment of our principles and our embrace of evil, but the action that the congress of the United States is about to take is terrible indeed. I am personally long past disappointment in John McCain, who has waterboarded whatever principles he once had, keeping them in stress positions so long that they have now died of organ failure. But I wish that the Democrats would show more spine: filibuster the damn thing, and make them enact it over every opposition that can be mustered. This is an evisceration of the constitution, of moral principle as well as wisdom, and it should be fought with all our strength. But alas, our country is not strong enough to resist this foul and monstrous act.

I'm teaching an intro U.S. history class this semester; I keep thinking of Ben Franklin's words describing the government that the new Constitution would create: "a republic, if you can keep it". We have had a worthy if flawed republic for several centuries. I wish I felt sure my fellow citizens felt it worth keeping.

Update: It is done.
"What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,
Making the green one red."

-- Macbeth II:2
Second Update: Glenn Greenwald makes the case for supporting the Democrats despite their craven actions on this bill. An excerpt:
But a desire to see the Democrats take over Congress -- even a strong desire for that outcome and willingness to work for it -- does not have to be, and at least for me is not, driven by a belief that Washington Democrats are commendable or praiseworthy and deserve to be put into power. Instead, a Democratic victory is an instrument -- an indispensable weapon -- in battling the growing excesses and profound abuses and indescribably destructive behavior of the Bush administration and their increasingly authoritarian followers. A Democratic victory does not have to be seen as being anything more than that in order to realize how critically important it is....
For all their imperfections, cowardly acts, strategically stupid decisions, and inexcusable acquiescence -- and that list is depressingly long -- it is still the case that Democrats voted overwhelmingly against this torture and detention atrocity.... By reprehensible contrast, the Republican Party is one that marches in virtually absolute lockstep in support of the President's wishes, particularly in the areas of terrorism and national security....
In the real world, one has to either choose between two more years of uncontrolled Republican rule, or imposing some balance -- even just logjam -- on our Government with a Democratic victory. Or one can decide that it just doesn't matter either way because one has given up on defending the principles and values of our country. But, for better or worse, those are the only real options available, and wishing there were other options doesn't mean that there are any.
Read the rest here.

Update III: Good round-ups of reactions at Majikthise and Making Light.

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