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« Getting Beyond Regulation (Ritholtz Feedback) | Main | Getting Beyond Regulation »

This Week In Tyranny

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post


I hate to sound like a broken record, but Dick Cheney is shameless and is eager to be publicly guilty. He has made his life an open, defiant challenge to the US government. Does anyone have the courage to take him down, and unleash the inevitable whirlwind? Or does the entire DC establishment prefer to live in quiet, peaceful acquiescence? Those are the only options at this point. Cheney wants to cast as wide a net of complicity as possible; he wants not just his White House implicated but future ones. Not just the White House, but the executive branch. Not just the executive branch but the legislative and judicial branches as well. He wants as much company as possible so he does not go down as a singular villain. It is working, and will continue as long as our leaders prefer to put their immediate comfort over their obligations. Andrew Sullivan:

Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.
What price ease?


On the same topic, it’s extremely important to keep in mind that the instruments of torture are being wielded throughout the government. And it’s all the worse because we know better. It is not a matter of an out of control president authorizing some cheap thugs to engage in sadism through secret, out of channel directives. It is about the creation of a torture apparatus by the executive branch, the promotion of it by the legislative and the allowing of it by the judicial. It can fairly be said: This is America.


The Friday night news dump was a big one this time. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers announced hearings in response, which on the face of it is not terribly encouraging. Conyers is an ornery bastard, though (and I write that with great affection) so it’s possible something may come of it.


Cheney is even crazier than many of us suspected, by the way.


Sullivan also had an amazing article on the complicity of the Catholic church in torture. Try to make the time if you haven’t read it yet. This too. He was a busy guy this week.


Our image in the Muslim world would probably improve if we stopped killing Muslims.


Cynthia Kouril linked to the Hobbs Act (along with the useful exhortation “read the link, trust me”). Excerpt:

While the definition of extortion under the Hobbs Act with regard to force, violence or fear requires the obtaining of property from another with his consent induced by these means, the under color of official right provision does not require that the public official take steps to induce the extortionate payment: It can be said that “the coercive element is provided by the public office itself.”
The Bush administration continually and forcefully used legalistic arguments to justify its criminality. The actual laws on the books are pretty expansive, though. The Hobbs Act doesn’t really allow for loopholes and doesn’t even require for the corrupt official to have direct control over the object of the crime. Sufficient proximity to it is good enough. Language like that in the Hobbs Act is basically a formalized way to cover the stuff that doesn’t pass the sniff test. We’ve become accustomed to requiring a smoking gun for high officials to be held accountable, but the existing standard is much lower.


This is the kind of thing I don’t follow as closely as I should, probably because I feel sufficiently occupied trying to keep track of America’s wrongdoing to focus on other countries. It is a fascinating story though.


Matt Taibbi’s latest, with caveats from lambert and Yves.


I usually avoid the rapid back and forth that happens with hot topics but this from William Jacobson struck me as somewhat dishonest:

TP [Think Progress] then suggested that readers watch the video. But anyone who actually watched the video would realize that TP’s presentation was a complete distortion and TP’s characterization of what Brown said was misleading. The video is below, here is the relevant portion of what Brown said:
Well It’s certainly tragic and I feel for the families obviously that are being effected by it. And I don’t know if its related but I can just sense not only in my election but since being here in Washington people are frustrated. They want transparency. They want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things affecting their daily lives. So I am not sure if there is a connection, I certainly hope not, but we need to do things better.
Brown then went on about the issue of whether “populist rage” caused the attack
You don’t know anything about the individual, he could have had other issues. Certainly no one likes paying taxes, obviously, but the way we’re trying to deal with things and have been in the past at least until I got here is, there’s such a log jam in Washington, and people want us to do better, they want us to help solve the problems that are affecting Americans in a very real way….
There was nothing Brown said which treated the attack lightly, or connected the attack to Tea Party or populist anger. In fact, Brown said just the opposite and his tone was one of concern.
Relating it at all to anything going on in Washington amounts to treating it lightly. Brown is attempting to gain political advantage by doing so, and short of making a joke about it I don’t see how he could have treated it more lightly. He explicitly says it is about people wanting transparency, accountability, and to “talk about the things affecting their daily lives.” How on earth is that not an appeal to populist anger?

Jacobson also wrote of Brown’s tone being one of concern. Have Republicans treated terrorism with “concern” the last eight years? No, they have treated it with pants-wetting lunatic raving. How does Jacobson not make the obvious point that the right has treated this terrorist attack in an unrecognizably different way?

For his benefit, and Brown’s, any anyone else’s who has trouble grasping what an appropriately serious response to this is, here is an example: “The madman who perpetrated this crime, who I will not do the honor of naming, has no right to have his opinions become part of public debate. We resolve our differences peacefully in America, not with violence. Anyone who resorts to violence, or the threat of it, as a means to affect public discourse is wholly discredited. We do not dignify them by permitting them to exert influence. They are beyond the pale, outside the bounds of civilization and are to be ostracized by people of good will everywhere. His wretched thinking will be buried with his body and under no circumstances should be used to prop up any argument. While his beliefs may in some cases have been shared by many who do not also share his barbaric nature, they must find ways to persuade the public of them without resorting to brutality.” TP was right and Jacobson was wrong. Brown treated it lightly and tried to politicize it. The right rallied around him. This tells you all you need to know about how seriously conservatives really take terrorism.


Carter watch, part 3. Previously.


Just imagine if the president had been this smart, dedicated and vigilant on terrorism in 2002.


I have a problem with this:

One big reason that the economy stabilized last summer and fall is the stimulus; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that without the stimulus, growth would have been anywhere from 1.2 to 3.2 percentage points lower in the third quarter of 2009. The stimulus will continue to trickle into the economy for the next couple of years, but as a concentrated force, it’s largely spent. Christina Romer, the chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said last fall, “By mid-2010, fiscal stimulus will likely be contributing little to further growth,” adding that she didn’t expect unemployment to fall significantly until 2011. That prediction has since been echoed, more or less, by the Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs is a key player in the current economic crisis. Its leaders are assholes and scumbags. No one anywhere should be citing its research or analysis for any reason, because doing so will have the effect of legitimizing it. Goldman is not legitimate. It is a wholly corrupt and malevolent enterprise. If we can’t get a proper investigation of it at least we could stop referring to it in polite company.


Sunday funny: I found this comment to be wholly hilarious. (Original post.)


I WISH I COULD WRITE LIKE DougJ:

Movie-goers are pickier about the believability of movies than pundits are about the believability of politicians’ claims.

Reader Comments (1)

Sadly, horribly true. I participate in a sci-fi fan forum, and we dissect our show, the writers' intents, the producers', the deleted scenes, pore over details. In my own life, I have two, possibly three people with whom I can have the same level of political discussion. The common denominators (which don't include either political interests or sci-fi, by the way) seem to be literacy and self-education.

February 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElliot

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