McCain Supports Torture

From the caustic irony department, McCain sells his ethics for no fucking reason (ThinkProgress):

Today, the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill to the floor, which contained a provision from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) establishing one interrogation standard across the government. The bill requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding.

Just hours ago, the Senate voted in favor of the bill, 51-45.

Earlier today, ThinkProgress noted that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war, has spoken strongly in favor of implementing the Army Field Manual standard. When confronted today with the decision of whether to stick with his conscience or cave to the right wing, McCain chose to ditch his principles and instead vote to preserve waterboarding:

Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted “no” on Wednesday afternoon.

The New York Times Times notes that “the White House has long said Mr. Bush will veto the bill, saying it ‘would prevent the president from taking the lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack in wartime.’”

After Bush vetoes the bill, McCain will again be confronted with a vote to either stand with President Bush or stand against torture. He indicated with his vote today where he will come down on that issue.

John McCain already has the nomination locked up.  What does he stand to gain by ditching his principles yet again?  Why give in on one of the issues he should be a defining voice of reason on?  I disagree with McCain on so many fronts the thought of him winning the presidency makes me sick to my stomach.  But there was once a time, before he became George Bush’s lapdog, when I genuinely respected the man.  That pre-2000 John McCain wouldn’t have sold out with bloody hands.  He’d have stood up and roared.  He’d have never stooped to being a sycophant, he would have been a leader.

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Police Abuse: Demand Answers

Is police abuse of authority here to stay?

If we want it to go, we need to be more active in fighting back. Those who support crooked cops aren’t taking time of from this fight (Via Pam):

Man, this bigot is busy. Besides being a racist (x2), homophobe and defender of intelligent design, Utah State Senator Chris Buttars has a solution for the plethora of incidents of taxpaying citizens tased for sh*ts and giggles by law enforcement officers who seem to have forgotten tactics to engage the public that fall somewhere between a civil conversation and unloading their weapon into them. (KUTV):

A new bill proposed at the legislature would allow for police to withhold misconduct reports from the public. Supporters of the bill believe that police misconduct should be kept secret from the public so to not discredit police testimony. Others say that a forthright police unit is essential to the community.

There’s video of the incident that spurred this:

A law to prohibit citizens from accessing evidence recorded using equipment paid for with public dollars, by public employees, who are entrusted with protecting the public. Genius. Republicans ought to be pretty damned ashamed of him. Citizens of all parties and no party, we need to unite in fighting efforts like his.

Pam asks:

People, what will it take to get this under control? In Tampa, Florida, a man paralyzed from the chest down was tossed out of his wheelchair by a law enforcement officer who didn’t believe Brian Sterner was a quadraplegic.
Can you believe this? Here is the video:
What it will take is for us to be relentless. Every time officers arrest us for attempting to record evidence, every time they use excessive force we must fight back.  We must demand our politicians stand up for our rights, and punish harshly those who help crooked officers stand on our necks. If you oppose police transparency and citizen rights, you should not be in office.
We also must challenge the media narrative. This is not a case of individual officers behaving badly. It is a systemic problem. What is at stake is not just the civil rights of the victims, but the civil rights of this entire nation.  The police ought to be a calming and reassuring presence in our neighborhoods, not a cause of fear.  We need to re-establish that trust, and this means rooting out the rotten officers even as we support the upstanding and ethical officers.
This is not just the fight of civilians, but one in which all citizens must join together to help the police return to their trust of serving and protecting the public.

Positive Outgrowth of Ron Paul Campaign?

This looks extremely interesting.  Ron Pauls supporters span the gamut, from conspiracy theorists and white supremacists to frustrated libertarians and conservatives of conscience.  There is a range of desperation and genuine creativity and commitment behind the small but vocal movement.  I’ve kept an eye on it mainly watching a man push a conservative and sometimes extremist agenda with a very slick packaging into the mainstream.

But the commitment of his supporters is, in a word, powerful.  So we on the left should pay attention to items like this:

We’re starting our own grassroots media company. Basic Media, Inc. (in formation) will create, build and connect Internet based radio and television outlets for freedom voices and faces around the United States and worldwide. The newly forming company will develop a wide ranging array of interesting and entertaining content on the web, and transmit our shows to mainstream “off the Internet” people through a variety of communications technologies and strategies.

Very, very interesting.  From the sounds of things, such an initiative would push ideas and ideals that are both laudable and laughable:

As Dr. Paul himself said so well on February 9, 2008: “The neocons, the warmongers, the socialists, the advocates of inflation will be hearing much from you and me.” Indeed. The tired, empty mantras of “right and left,” of “conservative and liberal,” of “Democrat and Republican,” will no longer stand unchallenged in our mainstream media outlets. Freedom, prosperity, peace, hope—the great ideas are coming to America.

Regardless of whether you agree with their message, the idea of combining networked content creation and off the internet delivery is brilliant:

The core technologies are already in place for high quality content creation and delivery on the web, and Basic Media, Inc. will take this process to the next higher level with syndication and delivery platform strategies that carry our message to the radios and television sets of every household in America. Break the monopoly of the establishment media! Break the wall of silence that stifles voices of truth in our nation!

I’m simultaneously cringing and excited for what kind of content could come out of this.  Overall, I think it is a bold effort and one to support and duplicate.  For one, it is a familiar cry, similar to Nader’s “We own the airwaves” approach to media.  But the main reason is that the netroots can combine a strong ability to raise funds and create smart content rapidly to follow this same path.  We can reach more people than we currently do.

If this movement runs into issues of censorship from either the media conglomerates or the government, we ought to be in the trenches with them fighting back.  Not simply because we can find common ground on some points (their anti-war stance), but because the larger issue of the media monopoly on our national conversation is too strong for either of us to break alone.

God is Not Just

A random encounter on the metro yesterday turned into an unexpected debate.

Upon reflection, I realized that the evangelical mindset has a worrying impact on our justice system, and how we approach both crime and criminals. In other words, I had run smack into the premise of one of Amanda’s posts over at Pandagon.

During the course of our debate, we came to the question of Justice. I was taking the position that God would never commit murder, while my evangelical friend asked “what about justice?”. One particular story we sparred over was that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Two points of contention arose. One was whether a perfect being can commit an imperfect action. If a person were to say, set off a bomb in a city, killing all of its inhabitants, this person would be rightly condemned to prison for life. The biblical god does it, and he is praised for his “justice”. This is a similar problem to the questions of God having emotions like anger and jealousy. Why would a perfect being possess imperfect, negative, human emotions? By the same token, one wonders why it is the biblical god gets away with murder.

Which leads into the second point of contention. “Do you suppose”, I asked, “that there were children under the age of two in Sodom?”. After this was affirmed, I asked whether such young children could be justly punished so violently and cruelly for their parents sins. The answer? “Its different because when God does it, it is just. The children would go to heaven, which is better than Earth.”.

This immediately raised a very worrying question. Was this evangelical suggesting that it was ok to kill children under 2? That sending them to heaven was somehow just, or even kind? What kind of a God was being worshiped, when his actions were cruel and evil enough that were they committed by a human being, they would be harshly condemned?

The actions we ascribe to God as moral are those we ourselves aspire to. I cannot think of a theistic religion in which the practitioner does not attempt to be like God. So how does one interpret scripture that insists God killed the innocent? How does one read this and continue to believe that those words describe or even approach perfection?

What does such a mindset bring to practical questions of law and justice as practiced in our country?