The Party of Brown Shirts Issues Beyond Palo Alto, posted by The Cohen brother, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 6:51 pm
Neoconservatives have turned the Republican Party into a Brownshirt Party.
Look at the evidence. While real patriots flee the party, the remaining supporters cling to power by asserting dictatorial dominance for President Bush. The Republican Attorney General denies that the US Constitution provides habeas corpus protection to American citizens. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential campaign, believe the president has the power to imprison US citizens indefinitely without warrants or trials. The "conservative" Federalist Society favors concentrating more power in the executive. Neoconservative ideologues claim the right to impose American hegemony over all others--especially over Muslims.
All of these Republican tyrants and budding tyrants claim to be protecting liberty and democracy.
Polls show that the percentage of Americans who tilt Republican has declined to 35 percent. Republican recruits are refusing to run for Congress. Ken Mehlman, until recently the party's chairman, says many voters have lost confidence in Republicans. To win back people's confidence, Mehlman says the party will have to become less reliant on white males and expand its support among Hispanics and blacks.
Decency and intelligence have departed Republican ranks. The party's shrunken base consists of ignorant and fearful people who believe Muslim jihadists are going to murder them in their beds, rapture evangelicals who believe that war in the Middle East is the prelude to their being wafted up to heaven, the military-security complex reveling in power and fortune, and resentful and frustrated people who can freely vent their anger and hate on "terrorists."
Posted by Real Conservative, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:51 pm
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I wish I could vote for a real fiscal conservative in the Republican Party -- these days, the better money managers all seem to be Democrats (e.g., Bill Clinton, the only Democrat who could snow people nearly as well as neoconservatives).
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:11 pm
The collection of fear, delusion, greed, and resentment comprises the 30 percent of Americans who constitute Bush's base. The Republican Party has made itself so unattractive that Democrats believe that it is now possible for a woman or a black to win the presidency.
Posted by The Cohen brother, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:15 pm
The Bush administration has destroyed American prestige and moral aura with torture scandals and disregard for Iraqi, Afghani, Palestinian and Lebanese civilian lives.
The Bush administration's budget and trade deficits have undermined the dollar. The Bush administration is calling for currency realignments that will lower the real incomes of import-dependent Americans.
The Bush administration's determination to exercise American hegemony through warfare, and its assaults on civil liberties, the separation of powers, American prestige and on good American jobs and the value of the dollar have destroyed the party's support.
America's virtue is its Constitution. An administration that attacks the Constitution attacks America's virtue. The true dangers that Americans face come from George W. Bush and Richard Cheney and their neoconservative Brownshirt Party.
Posted by James, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:30 pm
Sarlat, neoconservatives are former liberals who turned away from the fantasies and hatred of the left. Many of them, especially the prominent ones, are Jewish. To call them Brownshirts is offensive.
Many, probably most, of the GOP base are patriotic.
The administration, in time of war, is providing all required Constitional protections for U.S. citizens. Where there have been disputes, it has been ruled on by the Supreme Court, and the Bush administration complies. You have your presidents confused...it was A. Lincoln who violated habeas corpus. Giuliani and Romney (and others) are correct in supporting the Bush legal approach.
Supporting a strong executive branch in times of war makes complete sense to most rational people.
The U.S., as a superpower, does have hegemony in some areas, but that is not the goal. If our allies want our protection, it is very hard to avoid some mild form of hegemony, especially with an aircraft carrier visitng their ports. For our enemies, I could care less what they think. We hae decent relations with most Muslim nations, so that charge is a red herring.
Islamic fundamentalist jihadists are something to fear. We will have a long war with them. We should freely vent our anger and hate on terrorists.
Posted by AnotherView, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:59 pm
The fact of the matter is that about 30% of Americans would vote for/support a Republican President no matter what, another 30% would do the same for a Democrat and the rest of us 40% actually use our brains and recognize a dud when we see one and our willing to (God-forbid) "flip-flop" on someone. And if someone every deserved a "flip-flop," it's Bush, who I believe will go down as one of the worst presidents ever.
I myself am a fiscal conservative, so that would technically make be a Republican, but that's certainly not what I would call myself today given that Republican has become equivalent to "far right," particularly socially.
I voted for John McCain in the last election and was prepared to do so next time, but his recent kowtowing to Bush has left me disgusted. At this point, I'm ready to sit out the next election. Perhaps Hillary might drive me out, but if it's not her, I think I'll stay home and watch TV instead.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 16, 2007 at 9:22 pm
Far Right socially?? The first President to approve federal funding of embryonic stem cells is Far Right socially? A President who wants to legalize everyone who is here illegally? A President who fights making our Border opaque? A President who, or whose party, ( not sure if he does) supports Vouchers for schools so that every kid can choose whatever school he wants ( without federal control) is Far Right?? A President who has increased the share of the fed budget that the top 10% are responsible for? A President who doubled the Federal budget on education? Almost doubled the NIH budget? Increased the Medicare budget by ...300 billion? ( Gotta look it up)..
I must be missing something. This is NOT far right. In fact, this is more "left" than Clinton was. Don't know why he bothered, nobody remembers this.
Posted by AnotherView, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 9:39 pm
Draw The Line:
How about this instead: Reagan had principles, Bush none. I voted for Reagan, I didn't for Bush. McCain had principles, but he's abandoned them for getting the nomination. Thes rest are a bunch of mish-mashers at this point.
Who are YOU going to vote for, at least at this point?
Posted by Albert, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 6:59 am
The Republican Party lost its majority for the following reasons:
Greedy transnational corporations offshored US manufacturing jobs and destroyed the hopes and livelihoods of blue-collar Reagan Democrats. The gains from offshoring are diffused, but the costs are concentrated.
The same greedy and short-sighted corporations have spent the first years of the 21st century destroying the prospects of American middle class university graduates by offshoring jobs in professional services and by importing foreigners on work visas who work for less.
Neoconservatives captured conservative philanthropies, cut off funding to true conservatives, and used the captured conservative foundations to entrench themselves as advisors to the Republican party. The same neoconsertives that Reagan fired as a result of the Iran-Contra scandal occupy important policy positions in the Bush administration and dominate the National Security Council.
Republican "law and order" apathy to civil liberties easily transferred to the "war on terror." Republicans regard civil liberties as protective devices for criminals and terrorists. Republicans mistakenly believe that the law can be cut down selectively so that only certain despised groups are deprived of its protection.
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:34 am
Conservatives use the 'islamic Terrorism' mantra ad nauseam as if it's something that fell out of the sky unexpectedly, like a meteor. Quite frankly, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the destructive meddling of the Western powers in the region will begin to develop an understanding of where Islamic/Arab antipathy is coming from. I wonder how many Americans know that the Zionist movement was trying to displace Palestinians from Palestine long before the Holocaust, or even that Palestine was occupied land long before the Zionists appeared on the scene? How many Americans know about their country's role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953, or how the Shah maintained control over his population, with the support of the US? How many know that Saudi Arabia was a creation of the West and that the map of the region was redrawn to satisfy British and French colonial interests after WWI? The failure to talk about Western history in the region is a failure to talk about the problem of terrorism at all.
Posted by The Cohen brother, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:45 am
The claims that the Republican party has not become a Brown Shirts party does not hold water. Pay attenstion to the following:’
"Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."
Michael Ledeen, rightist, neocon, and promoter of war with Iran, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in the early 1990s, as quoted in National Review Online.
It's generally known that the regime of war and torture that the Bush administration has visited upon the Middle East was planned and supported by a group of American intellectuals called collectively neoconservatives. The name is merely a label, not a description: there is nothing remotely conservative about this gang of statist reactionaries.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:45 am
Unless someone better comes along, with my priority on security it would be Guiliani. I would hold my nose, but he is the most consistent in the most important area to me. I would have to ignore a lot about him personally that disgusts me, but it wouldn't be the first time.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:48 am
Cohen and Sarlat..you either read the same stuff as Singh did, or you ARE he..Hope paloaltoonline figures out a way to keep us to one moniker and a grading system soon so that we can skip the predictable posters.
Posted by Laura, a resident of another community, on Apr 17, 2007 at 1:56 pm
Isn't it a little degrading to the public discourse to label those you disagree with "Brownshirts"? I've got no love for the Bush administration, but it doesn't help the cause of getting reasonable people to come over to your side when you start calling names like Brownshirt, Fascist, or (on the other side) Pinko. Sheesh. I thought people in Palo ALto were supposed to be smart.
Posted by The Cohen brother, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 2:56 pm
Laura, I call them Brown Shirts because that's precisely what they are. Should I refrain from calling Bin Laden a terrorist in the hope of getting his people to come to our side? Their actions have qualified them to be tagged as Brown Shirts and their actions speak very loudly. You can't fight Fascism if you pretend it doesn't exist. I do not want anybody to come over to my side. If this catasrophic administration doesn't cause Republicans to abandon their party, nothing will.
Posted by James, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 3:01 pm
"It's generally known that the regime of war and torture that the Bush administration has visited upon the Middle East was planned and supported by a group of American intellectuals called collectively neoconservatives"
Cohen brother, name these intellectuals whom you call Brownshirts.
Posted by Albert, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:27 pm
Invading and occupying a sovereign nation using doctored and falsified intelligence, killing in the process anywhere between a hundred thousand to possibly 4 times that civilians. Violating the Constitution, outing a CIA operator in order to punish her husband who revealed to the world that the Bush regime was using lies to justify the invasion. These are just some of the crimes of this regime and you call labeling them as Brown Shirts 'over the top'. How would you label another regime doing all that stuff? How exactly is this invasion different from the German invasion of Poland?
Posted by Albert, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 7:53 am
One of Gonzales's many transgressions has been to be an enabler in changing the law in the Military Tribunal Act. The reason this law was changed is that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a few others would have become serious candidates to be handed over to the International Court of justice after January 2009 as war criminals. This was an insurance policy and the Democrats should amend that law again to make sure that after they leave office they wouldn't just walk away.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 8:53 pm
Military tribunals are probably fairer than the average civilian court since officers are not running for office. If a POW has killed a US soldier in action, he can not be punished for that because that is what soldiers do. Try him in a civilian court and charge him with murder? Feather Merchants! No one is going to hand any American official over to an international tribunal because we are not so stupid as to give up our souvreignty.
Posted by Sillaw_E_Retlaw, a resident of another community, on Apr 18, 2007 at 10:45 pm
Albert pointed out that the Military Tribunals act changed the liability for war crimes under AMERICAN Law. There is nothing in it about International tribunals. The trials would be in American courts. It didn't change International Law.
"The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.
Officials say the amendments would alter a U.S. law passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties governing military conduct in wartime. The conventions generally bar the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean.
The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.
Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts -- such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- that fall short of torture."
Why does the U.S. need separate Military Tribunals with different rules when it already has military courts with well-established rules for handling crimes of POW's?
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2007 at 7:23 am
"Why does the U.S. need separate Military Tribunals with different rules when it already has military courts with well-established rules for handling crimes of POW's?"
Because we have acceded to some very specious definitions of torture.
There are some who consider incarceration to be the penultimate torture, myself included. We have a need to put some people in jail, and a need to detain others and question them. We cannot expose the instruments of national policy to foreign law and still claim sovreignty. I for one am not ready to allow the world to write our domestic laws.
Posted by sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm
"I for one am not ready to allow the world to write our domestic laws."
1.This is exactly what every single tyrant has said.
2. Our domestic laws don't allow for prisoners to be tortured, humiliated and abused. Marine General James L. Jones, the recently retired supreme allied commander of NATO, had refused to accept the job then given to General Patreous, mainly because he had objected so much to what happened in Abu Ghraib and is still happening in G'tmo, General Jones said in a recent interview on Charlie Rose that not enough people, especially at the top, payed the consequences for what he labled as a disgrace to our national honor and core values.
Posted by Albert, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2007 at 2:02 pm
Wallis, even bush, Cheney, Rusfeld and some neocons have said that what happened in Abu Grhaib was a national disgrace. Some of them even seemed sincere. As for you, it doesn't seem to bother you. As long as the perpetrators are Americans, they can do no wrong. I suppose that you had no problems with the My Lai massacre.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 19, 2007 at 5:20 pm
Let's be clear. An honorable country can acknowledge that treating anybody with disdain is dishonorable. Note, the perps have been punished. Note, they are being punished because their behavior was against our rules, not condoned. Out of a million people ( a million soldiers), you will get a few people like the ones who embarrassed the Abu Graib prisoners.
The difference is that humiliating and scaring someone, as what was commonly called "torture" during this story, is not torture. The joke in Iraq was that all the prisoners under Saddam wished they had been tortured like the Abu Graib prisoners. The prisoners of Abu Graib know this, and there are reports that the prisoners of Abu Graib begged our soldiers to stay as they were walking out, after handing over the prison to the Iraqis.
Notice we haven't heard anything more from them, and I don't think it is because they are all so happy.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 19, 2007 at 5:25 pm
To clarify why I believe we have heard no more from Abu Graib - the people in the Abu Graib block that was under the spotlight for so long were those who had been caught RED HANDED, literally, with blood on their hands and knives or with a detonator in their hands after a bomb went off. I doubt the Iraqi police in Abu Graib are going to be overly solicitous to known guilty murderers.
But, the double standard is in effect now, and the wall of silence has descended.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2007 at 5:42 pm
About Abu Graib, Bush, Cheney and Rumdsfeld were all out of line. This was the equivalent of a frat hazing, so far from torture that it tortures the language to call it such. The apropriate action wou;ld have been to have given the Sergeant a summart court for midsconduct, a years confinement and a BCD. His subordinates, company punishment.
The sergeant's immediate commander deserved a letter of reprimand for failing to take immediate action, and the general deserved whatever they give generals for whining. The world media deserved the scorn of any rational observer.
Posted by Sillaw_E_Retlaw, a resident of another community, on Apr 19, 2007 at 8:38 pm
In the secret CIA prisons, some interrogators stuffed the prisoners in sleeping bags and beat them to death. Whether you think this is torture, the rest of the world does and it is undermining the moral standing of the U.S.
I've never heard of POW's being released while the "war" was continuing. Isn't that by definition. So if we are fighting a "war on terror," (a tactic by the way, not a group), why does the U.S. need to make up new designations to imprison POW's.
This isn't a specious question of national sovereignity but the rule of law, American Law. Throwing away the rule of law has also undermined the U.S. moral standing in the rest of the world.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2007 at 7:19 am
World standards, or just world expectations of US standards. By worls standards our prisons are resorts and out treatment of prisoners is edenistic. We usually punish excesses of our own, unlike almost all the rest of the world.
We had to invent a new designation for prisoners because under the old designation we would just shoot them for being out of uniform.
Our standing in the rest of the world is not based on our actions, it is based on the need of the rest of the world to cpmpensate for their failings.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2007 at 12:39 pm
My kids have not waged war against the United States or, to my knowledge, committed any other act that would warrant jailing. I would be really irritated, however, if one of my children was a Gitmo guard and was made to accept flung feces without a response.
Careful examination of my writing would have revealed that I approve of appropriate punishment for misconduct, both of guards and of prisoners. I still refuse to tell the political affiliation of the Abu guards. Don'r ask.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm
My Marine grandson may be returning to Iraq for his third tour. If he is captured I fully expect he will be tortured and killed. The guys doing the killing will laugh because they know that if they are captured they will live better than they ever have. Absolutely nothing we do will change the way Islam extremists treat our soldiers, so it is stupid for us to burden our soldiers with rules made for warfare with honorable people.
Posted by Sillaw_E_Retlaw, a resident of another community, on Apr 20, 2007 at 9:17 pm
"Absolutely nothing we do will change the way Islam extremists treat our soldiers, so it is stupid for us to burden our soldiers with rules made for warfare with honorable people."
Lowering ourselves to the level of Al Qaeda is counterproductive. We are fighting not for the good will of Islamist Extremists but for the rest of Arab Street. No matter how good it makes you feel to torture your enemy, in the long run, it is a mistake because it only empowers the mulahs and other extremists. If the U.S. had really built a thriving democracy in Iraq our influence, especially moral influence, would have been enormous. But with exceptional ineptness, the current administration blew that opportunity and there aren't any good options left. But acting like a barbarian just because your immediate enemy is one is extremely short-sighted and childish.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2007 at 8:21 am
You paint over broad both with your definition of torture and barbarian. We are not fighting for the good will of the rest of Arab Street because that is not attainable. I don't accept your definitions of either torture or barbarian, but if your understanding is that limited then that is your problem, not mine.
We are fighting to convince the Arab and Persian Street that harming us has unpleasant consequences. Whatever our noble intention might be, only the consequences to them will matter. Tell me when it has ever been different.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 21, 2007 at 9:37 am
Walter, for once I agree with you AND with the guy before you.
We are fighting, like you said, to show that there are consequences to any action taken against us, much like you fight the bully at the playground to teach him to leave you alone. AND we are trying to show the Arab "street" that we behave in a way that is appreciably better than "their" way.
The problem is that the Arab "street" has no access to free information, therefore it is an impossible battle, except through word of mouth, which is constantly negated by their "media" and "schools".
Posted by Sillaw_E_Retlaw, a resident of another community, on Apr 21, 2007 at 10:18 am
The problem with your analysis is that for most in the Mid-East, the U.S. and Isreal are considered the "bully at the playground." Kids that stand up or bloody the bully are viewed as heros. Instead of condemning the insurgents, the others are rushing to create nuclear programs. This says to me that the U.S. has lost the war of perceptions. We aren't viewed as standing up to a bully but a bully to be twarted. Whether you like it or not, how you conduct a war and occupy the defeated does matter. Making a statement that you are the biggest, baddest bully in the neighborhood doesn't necessary make good foreign policy. It may make you feel better but everyone is secretly arming themselves for the day you pick on them.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Apr 21, 2007 at 12:05 pm
Which is why Walter's take on it is right, also.
You make Walter's point for him. It doesn't matter what we say or do, the propoganda against us in incredible. As long as the propoganda is successful, our only defense is to firmly establish in the minds of all that there is a price to hurting us, until the reality spreads that we are, in fact, the people who defend more Muslims world-wide than do the Muslim dictators. I know you will dispute this, but find me instances, or even one time, when a Muslim country or peoples ( ie Bosnia) were invaded and another Muslim country came to its defense. Now think about the times an English speaking democracy has defended Muslims' freedom to choose their religion and way of life.
I believe, and I know you will disagree, that if we had consistently fought back harder, sooner, from the time when the Embassy in Iran was taken, we would not be in the position we are in today.
That is the lesson everyone should learn on the playground.
Posted by Sillaw_E_Retlaw, a resident of another community, on Apr 21, 2007 at 6:01 pm
Playground rules only get you so far. You and I both know that we invaded Iraq to make a statement. "The U.S. is willing to use force and will inflict punishment if attacked." We knew Iraq was weak after years of sanctions and had limited if any WMD's. Plus Saddam had been thumbing his nose at the U.S. for years. It was going to be a cakewalk. The U.S. believed that many military commanders would not actually fight against us.
But do you really think that Islamic Extremists give a rat's ass about us hurting Iraq? We gave them a gift (and Iran too.) Our failure in Iraq is the greatest recruiting tool since Afganistan. Just like Afganistan, the terrorists we've recuited to Iraq are going to continue for decades to come. Unless keeping troops in Iraq eliminates the Jihadists, we are going to suffer from this mistake long beyond this administration. But the longer we occupy Iraq, the better the recruiting for the Jihadists.
The other downside of the Iraq war is the incredible militarization of the region. In the past, the primary flash point was the Isreali conflict. But the balance of power is so one-sided in Isreal's favor, this hostility is essentially contained. Once the Shi'a and Sunni's really have real WMD's, then we can look forward to WMD versions of the Iraq-Iran war or a nuclear attack on Isreal. This isn't going to be a stalemate caused by mutual assured destruction because it isn't going to be clear what to destruct. It is a region where miscalculations happen all too often.
Using playground rules as a basis for foreign policy has to be tempered with the long-term consequences.