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RSS icon Comments on Live from DC: Cantwell Votes No on Military Tribunals Bill, Inslee Busts Nickels, and I Visit My Hero's Office.

1

Heartwarming tidbit about Rep. Lewis. I'm heading through Memphis in a couple weeks and am looking forward to my visit to the Civil Rights Museum.

Today is indeed a sad day - yet another low point in American history, but I remain optimistic that it is not too late to turn this ship around before our country is lost forever.

Posted by Dr. Chim Richalds | September 29, 2006 9:52 AM
2

Josh,
There's something charming and refreshing about your optimism, but it feels to me like too little too late.

Yesterday's votes on the torture bills were simply the most disgusting, most disturbing act of congress that most of us have ever seen. It is simply intolerable that our president can advocate torture and can repeal the right to habeus corpus which has been a cornerstone of democratic governance for 800 years. And it is worse that our elected officials support him.

The system is broken. I appreciate that you still have some faith in our elected officials, and that you can go to the capitol and become giddy at the evidence of past achievements. But those days seem long gone. Yesterday's events are the final straw. Our government is broken beyond repair, and no popular vote is going to repair it. I have a terrible feeling that we are sinking deeper and deeper into the kind of paranoid tyranny that plagued Europe last century. And I'm sorry, but I fear that the Democrats are powerless to stop the downward spiral.

Posted by Gurldoggie | September 29, 2006 9:59 AM
3

The amazing Josh Feit...he's a reporter, he's a lobbyist. He asks a question, then pressures a pol. Only at The Stranger do you find such a dizzying display of roles and ethics, hypocrisy dressed in false modesty. What a dork!

Posted by Ethics Alert..if there are any ethics | September 29, 2006 10:09 AM
4

Habeus corpus is a linchpin of democratic societies, and has been critical in the evolution of democracy since 1215. 1215! 791 years of rights flushed down the toilet.

Make no mistake: every elected official who voted in favor of this is Un-American.

These people are traitors, and deserve a one-way ticket to Pyongyang, North Korea

Posted by B | September 29, 2006 10:20 AM
5

josh, nice work ending this otherwise depressing post on an uplifting and, dare i say, sweet note.

the conspiracy theorist sitting on my left should wants to suppose that the notable lack of wi-fi is just another way of the Man keeping you down, by limiting your dissemination of information.

the realist on my right, however, acknowledges that our country's elected leaders continue to do that work on their own, with or without internet connections -- as evidenced by the pathetic display in the senate this week.

take a break from the hill, go across the bridge and visit ian mackaye. he's got brilliant tales of DC politics, can point you in the direction of all sorts of stuff you might otherwise miss, and, if you're lucky, he'll show you the cramped little space in his basement where minor threat used to practice.

Posted by kerri harrop | September 29, 2006 10:25 AM
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I was in DC with a group last week, and we had the luck to spend about 15 minutes with Rep. Lewis. He talked about his time with Martin Luther King Jr. and we were able to see all of the pictures he had from that time. I can't remember seeing someone completely captivating a room the way he did with his recounting of all of those events.

He had just finished speaking on the the House floor about the Voter ID Act, and he was incredibly passionate about it.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I didn't really know of him before meeting him, but came away with an immense respect for not only his sacrifices back in the 60's but how he has continued the fight in a very different venue.

Posted by blah | September 29, 2006 10:35 AM
7

Josh,

Since you are in DC, could you please ask our reps about the report that Homeland Security has contracted with KBR to build detention camps here in the US? I'm somewhat paranoid now that Congress has legalized indefinite imprisonment and torture.

Thank you.

Posted by Andrew | September 29, 2006 10:38 AM
8

To all the alarmists out there:

Do you seriously think Bush or even the House and the Senate, for that matter, can undo "800 years of law"?

If you think that one guy or even one chamber of Congress has that much authority to throw America into a tyrannical state, you are mistaken.

Not only that, you are naive.

I hope you look back on your posts or blogs or what have you from the last 6 years and chuckle at how things turned out alright because overall, our system works...just occasionally we get a President that doesn't work very well within its framework.

Posted by The Sky Isn't Falling | September 29, 2006 11:04 AM
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I was in DC with blah (who knew? I bet neither of us knew who the other was - we'll have a good guess now...) last week. Blah, you should get back to work. All your time are belong to us.

Regarding the wi-fi, Senator Cantwell wants it, but a combination of Capitol IT and Capitol security is preventing it. The nervous nellies are EXTREMELY concerned (understandably) about the security of wi-fi and confidential Senate communications, and they don't have a solution just yet. Given that the building is just shy of 200 years old, I imagine there are infrastructure limitations, too. No conspiracy theory, just nervous security.

Posted by switzerblog | September 29, 2006 11:15 AM
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The Sky Isn't Falling: this is, in fact, the first time habeas corpus has been overturned as a matter of law. It also marks the first time that any president has tried, and succeeded, to base our most important policies, not on the law, but on the personal whim of the president. Until yesterday, we were a nation of laws, not men. That is no longer true. The president is the decider, and he and he alone gets to decide whether we are torturing the thousands of prisoners in our Gulag or not.

This is not the same old process. This is new. This is tyranny. And the fact that millions of worthless, Constitution-hating scum like you support it means this country is utterly doomed.

Posted by Fnarf | September 29, 2006 11:27 AM
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Wow, now you're putting words in my mouth.

First, I never said I support it. Second, I, obviously, don't hate the Constitution. I actually believe it'll hold up more than basically everyone here. That's how much *I* believe in it.

So, before you go on valuing my self-worth, why don't you read what I'm saying or at least try to have a little understanding before throwing stones, eh?

The fact of the matter is that once Bush is out of office and Democrats control Congress, there will be a reversal and a whole lot of shit Bush and Congress have done can be fixed.

That's what term limits are there for...to make sure we aren't run by a tyrannical state.

Posted by The Sky Isn't Falling | September 29, 2006 11:32 AM
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I'd understand Sky Isn't Falling's points better if it weren't for the fact that a dozen Democrats voted for this amendment out of fear and greed.

The world will still turn. As notions of society progress, it has to regress as well, apparently. It just hurts to see it all in one fell swoop.

Spectre hinted that this bill will retain habeas corpus once this hits the courts once -- IF it hits the courts, and IF the courts decide against it. I wish I could be as optimistic as Spectre, and I'm hoping he's right.. still.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | September 29, 2006 11:40 AM
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Fnarf may have over reacted (and who can blame him?) but he's basically right. This traipsing down the road of torture marks a radical departure from past policies. This isn't a momentary blip, or a "comma" in Bush's words. This is an explicit condoning of torture as U.S. policy. It reeks of tyranny and we do ourselves no favors by pretending it's business as usual.

Get your head out the sand Sky. This is serious, man.

Posted by Gurldoggie | September 29, 2006 11:40 AM
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Congress will not be reversing this law anytime soon. The Dems are unlikely to take the Senate, for one, and for another, there are twelve Dems who voted FOR this monstrosity. And it is by no means clear that the Dems will take the White House in 2008, as they have no cerdible candidates lined up. If a Republican wins, recovery will not be possible.

The Constitution is gone. The Supreme Court is now controlled by extremist right-wingers, and they are the final arbiter. They LOVE this shit; Scalia and Roberts LOVE torture.

And every time the Bushies get their way like this, people always say the same thing: well, that's pretty terrible. I can't believe THAT happened. But what they never get is, this is just the beginning. It's not over. Bush will be proposing and passing more and more of these laws, with the help of asshole Democrats. Soon -- and we are almost there now, after yesterday -- the president will be able to operate completely in secret, with no oversight at all.

Posted by Fnarf | September 29, 2006 11:46 AM
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Sky Isn't Falling (@8): Actually, yes it is.

This is a huge power grab by the president. With this law, the president alone can decide who is and is not considered a terrorist. If you or I or anyone else doesn't agree with his definition of a terrorist, tough shit. If the president (and/or his lackeys) determine that you are a terrorist, they can now detain you (ie: lock you up) indefinitely, for the rest of your life, if they choose. You have no right to an attorney, to a trial, or to an appeal.

This law would apply to people IN THIS COUNTRY, not just brown people captured half way around the world.

Let's say I'm from, oh, Canada, living in Seattle. Let's say my neighbor is a right-wing homo-hating wacko, and decides to call Homeland Security, claiming I gave money to some local mosque, and that money is being funneled to Iraq. I'm a terrorist sympathizer, he claims. Under this law, I can be picked up, shipped off to Gitmo (or Syria or wherever), and never heard from again. Ever. I have no legal right to refute my neighbor's claims. I have no right to an attorney, or a trial.

This is exactly the scenario that this new law sets up.

Once I'm at Gitmo, they could legally interrogate me using waterboarding, sleep deprivation, or hypothermia. Why, because the president, alone, gets to decide what the definition of "torture" is, and Bush doesn't consider those techniques "torture".

If after 20 years or so, the government decides my detention was a mistake and releases me, I would have no right to complain. Why? Because this new law grant immunity to anyone in the government accused of torture. And it is retroactive to before Bush took office.

So to review, the president would be able to decide that anyone is a terrorist, can detain them forever, can "interrogate" them without calling it torture because the president gets to define "torture", and can never be held accountable for any mistakes made.

Alarmed? You should be.

Posted by SDA in SEA | September 29, 2006 11:53 AM
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The REALITY is that they can't "shelve" Habeus Corpus. It predates the Constitution. It can't be overridden by a law.

It is.

At some point, it will be back, because someone will have the guts to sue for it, and be found to have standing, and that's that.

Same things goes for the War Crimes exemptions for the WH - they can pass all the laws they want, but the Geneva Conventions are an international treaty and can't be abridged by later laws.

This will all be "discovered" in the next few months.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 29, 2006 11:55 AM
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Exactly, SDA. What makes this worse right now is that Bush's decision process is explicitly dismissive of the concept of evidence. He is not interested in evidence, only in suspicion. Bald, even baseless suspicion is now sufficient grounds for action in this administration. I'm not making this up; it's right there in Cheney's public utterances.

What yesterday did was eliminate any other process BESIDES suspicion. Law doesn't exist anymore. Anyone can be detained without reason forever. BY THEIR OWN ADMISSION 99% of these detainees will be innocent of any crime. But they will have no recourse.

And they will be coming for you next.

This has spectacularly bad implications not just for human rights but for our very way of life. It could destroy our economy, if immigrants leave. This nation ABSOLUTELY DEPENDS on its immigrants.

Posted by Fnarf | September 29, 2006 12:00 PM
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First, the fact that Specter (sorry for the above typo, although crypticly fitting) VOTED for this, even though he said it is shit against the fan that is the Constitution is boggling, despite my paraphrasing his comments.

Second, while I think this War Criminal bill is a completely fucking atrocity, it's insult to injury that it basically is also a Republic power play to help galvanize votes for this election. I'm far more angry at the Democrats who voted for this, because a) they caved into money and fear, and b) were fucking stupid for doing so, because NAY votes would have probably won them more voters anyway.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | September 29, 2006 12:01 PM
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It is highly unlikely this will be overturned by a new Congress any time soon. The vote was 65-34. Even if you add non-voting Republican Olympia Snowe to the No side, that puts the total 15 Senate seats, a Democratically-controlled Senate to push the repeal bill through committee to the floor, and a Democratic VP willing to break the tie (or a 16th Senate seat). Oh, and also a Democratic House to pass the corresponding bill in the other house.

With 12 Democrats among the pro-torture total, none of whom are opposed by anti-torture Republicans, that means the 16 Senate seats have to come entirely from GOP seats. There are only 15 incumbent GOP seats in contention this election, so the outcome in the Senate alone is mathematically not to mention politically impossible. There's no way the Democrats will win every election this year, and they'd still be short a vote even if they did.

It's not clear what mechanism would allow this law to be overturned in the courts, as the law itself prohibits most conceivable appeals. Even given standing the current court may not be likely to overturn. And what happens when Justice Stevens dies and is replaced by another Scalia clone?

So, the best hope is for Democrats to keep winning elections until they win back both houses of Congress with anti-torture margins, control the presidency, and can shore up the liberal wing of the Supreme Court. If everything goes the right way, that will probably take a generation.

More likely, this will just remain law forever, and the Republicans just murdered republican government in the United States, with a dozen Democratic cowards joining in on the ambush. We had our chance to stop this two years ago, and we failed.

Yeah, yeah, "Don't mourn, organize," or whatever other cliche you wan't to use to salve the pain. I'll be over here mourning.

Posted by Cascadian | September 29, 2006 12:10 PM
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Fnarf and company are correct -this is far from business as usual. The US has become an official state sponsor of torture and disappearances. Even if the Supreme Court did eventually invalidate the law, it will take years for a lawsuit to work its way through the court system and who wants to be the test case(!)? Plus, we'll need to have a Congress and President that doesn't simply ignore the Supreme Court's rulings as they have done for the last two years.
No, this new law isn't the end, it's just the beginning. The next "law" coming from Congress legalizes Bush's domestic spying program.

Let's just make this clear: Legalizing torture, indefinite imprisonment and domestic spying without judicial review is not counter-terrorism, IT IS TERRORISM.

The Republican's goal is to keep the public constantly terrified into voting for them, while surppressing political dissent and opposition. This is how democracies fall. The ruling party tells the public they're under attack and civil liberties must be suspended for security, more security. All dissenters are traitors who are exposing the country to more danger. They go after immigrants and racial/sexual minorities first, then later suspend rights for everyone else (presumably after the next attack). It's as predictable as sunrise and sunset. Also predictable is the fact that few will believe that the party in power will take that next step. Call it a Cassandra complex if you like. I wonder at what point the decent people of Germany realized that it was too late?

All you have to do to introduce fascism to the US is call it "patriotism," and these idiots fall all over themselves to vote for it.

Posted by Andrew | September 29, 2006 12:11 PM
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Right on, FNARF. This will allow whoever is in power to lean on anyone they want, in whatever way they see fit. That has broad implications for party politics, elections, and news coverage.

Bush also wants to have the sole ability to determine who should be wiretapped, without even token judicial review.

The philisophical underpinning of all this is the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.

Posted by B | September 29, 2006 12:13 PM
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As far as immigrant-bashing goes, the Senate's very next item of business after passing this abortion of a bill yesterday was to begin debate on the 700-mile wall on the Mexican border.

So now we have laws to declare any immigrant an unlawful enemy combatant, combined with a useless and expensive militarization of the border, a normalization of racist comments and ideology by prominent right-wing politicians, new surveillance legislation that legalizes spying on Americans as well as everyone else, and rumors of domestic camps for terrorists.

Free speech hasn't been suspended yet, but the big media channels that most Americans see are all going along with the program. TV and big network news sites online barely even mentioned this legislation, because they were too busy selling add space with gun violence hysteria.

Piece by piece, they're dismantling our democracy and replacing it with an authoritarian, pseudo-Christian regime, and the supposed official political opposition is doing nothing credible to stop it.

Our only hope is to vote for the opposition party no matter how weak they are, demand that Democrats grow a spine and do something, and plan for what happens if that doesn't pan out.

Posted by Cascadian | September 29, 2006 12:20 PM
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why is Cantell running those "affordable perscription drugs for Seniors" ads right now? I saw 3 of them last night. She is going to lose what was thught of as a pretty stable democratic senate seat to another republican dirtbag. Why isnt she running ads about her stance on national security and the end of this country's constitution?

I agree, we are fucking screwed

Posted by eugene | September 29, 2006 12:32 PM
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Josh, just a reminder to remember Al Gore's movie and eat organic sustainable food on your trip. When you fly home please don't buy plastic bottled water on the airplane but carry along your own in a reusable.


We all have to do everything we can to stop global warming.

Posted by Kimberly | September 29, 2006 12:41 PM
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you know, Kim, we all get you're a troll.

And the seniors ads are because that's what turns out the muddling middle. They all know young voters don't vote. Sure, you TALK about it, but you always FORGET.

So, do something don't waste time saying you'll do it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 29, 2006 12:51 PM
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The sky is always falling. It's simple political gravity.

There are always people pushing it back up where it belongs ... and there are always people hiding under the bed.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | September 29, 2006 1:28 PM
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Josh you might try asking your airline if you can fly a plane that runs on biodiesel.

I really care about global warming. If we don't fight, the republicans will keep ruining the planet with their fried food and soft drinks.


When I travel for work I always bring organic snacks for the flight.

Posted by Kimberly | September 29, 2006 1:29 PM
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Will,
I wish I had your confidence, but you're just wrong.

Laws don't exist on their own in some Platonic realm. They depend on governments and people to apply and enforce them. Treaties are only as powerful as a countries will to follow them. There is no international body who can force the U.S. to apply Habeus or follow the Geneva Conventions.

By publicly stating it's intent to dispense with these laws, the administration is changing the rules. And as they have shown us so many times, neither public opinion nor judicial review can sway them.

Posted by Gurldoggie | September 29, 2006 1:50 PM
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You guys act as if haebeus corpus was applied to everyone previously (remember the British empire?), or everyone in America (slavery, Jim Crow). Not that we want to revisit these evil times, or they provide solace now. But a little less pollyana in the outrage would be nice.

Posted by wf | September 29, 2006 3:57 PM
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WF,

The British Empire, slavery, and Jim Crow were eras of oppression and willful ignorance. One must feel sorrow that our govenrment has apparently learned nothing from history except a burning desire to return to oligarchy. That we as a people must fear our own government despite the progress made over the past hundred years and that we do not now, or may ever have again in our lifetime, a representative government.

Posted by dewsterling | September 29, 2006 4:03 PM
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Spot on Dewsterling.

I would go even further and point out that none of this would be possible without the apathy, ignorance and gullibility of most Americans. As a society, we've learned nothing from history or our mistakes like slavery and Jim Crow, and every fresh disaster (9/11, Iraq, Katrina) will be treated like some new situation that has never been encountered by anyone anywhere (Oklahoma City Bombing, Vietnam, San Francisco 1906 Quake). It all goes down the national memory hole.

Most people will wallow in their willful ignorance and apathy until it's too late, because hey -that's the American Way!

Posted by Andrew | September 29, 2006 4:24 PM
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I could also mention that it would be nice if we could undo the damage of the Bush Administration without a civil war that kills a (prorated to our 2006 population) of 3 million or thereabouts. So your "slavery" analogy looks weaker.

Further weakening that argument is this: if Bush reenacted slavery in the US, would you still be saying "pollyanna"? I don't think so.

Posted by Fnarf | September 30, 2006 6:02 PM
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I have been feeling pain for days - I was afraid of the path staked out when the Bushies snubbed Federal Courts over and over - but never did I envision the Congres of the US would vote to forefit the base of our freedom from autocratic tyranny.

Where is the body - and the ability to compel police and govt. to answer via courts is the base for all our freedoms.

Now gone. Al Gore warned of the US Gulag envisioned by the right wing several years ago - was ignored.

Journalist will just vaporize first... then old left leaders who have always been too red .... prominent gays, abortion doctors, there is a long list somewhere in the CIA/NSA .... Restoring Domestic Stability Project ... and by the way ... people are already afraid.

Note this is very openly a CIA project - utterly amazing that Bush talks about the CIA like his daddy and buddies have it all in the bag -- they do.

Glad to see a lot of fight back vigor.

But the brainwashed masses think you are nuts when you walk them through what just happened. I have right wing son in law, and the combination of my ex-wife turned Evangelical and pro Bush - I see and talk the other side often. Nice people, totally brainwashed and scary.

I used to contemplate how smart some Jews were to leave Germany early, there were many ominous signs early on - now it is real for many of us to make some of those same decisions.

Many countries wiill quiety begin offering politcal sanctuary as they rearm.

Posted by Jake | October 1, 2006 11:37 AM
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Cantwell voted against it. McGavick said he would have supported it. (from Postman blog)

....for those who think Maia is not perfect - think about knee jerk Mike helping Bush destroy the Republic....

Posted by Jack | October 1, 2006 1:01 PM

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