David Kirkpatrick

August 22, 2010

On the Cordoba Center controversy

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:26 am

Or as it’s better known these days thanks to the latest media meme, the “ground zero” mosque. Here’s the plain facts as simply put as I can get them down — the group behind the Cordoba Center has every Constitutional right to put the center right where it is planned to be as it has met New York’s zoning, and other, requirements. Proponents, and (more likely) opponents of the center have every Constitutional right to debate, discuss, cajole and otherwise use their free speech rights to influence the general public and the group behind the center. Whether placing the Cordoba Center that close to ground zero of the New York 9/11 attacks is a good or bad thing is subject for debate, but whether it can, or cannot, be placed there is not.

Which leads to this incredibly wrong-headed post by Andy McCarthy at the Corner.

From the link:

A friend poses the following: Imagine that there really were these fundamentalist Christian terror cells all over the United States, as the Department of Homeland Security imagines. Let’s say a group of five of these terrorists hijacked a plane, flew it to Mecca, and plowed it into the Kaaba.

Now let’s say a group of well-meaning, well-funded Christians — Christians whose full-time job was missionary work — decided that the best way to promote healing would be to pressure the Saudi government to drop its prohibition against permitting non-Muslims into Mecca so that these well-meaning, well-funded Christian missionaries could build a $100 million dollar church and community center a stone’s throw from where the Kaaba used to be — you know, as a bridge-building gesture of interfaith understanding.

McCarthy goes on to pose a series of hypothetical questions on the reaction from the Saudis, the Obama administration, Christian leaders and more. It’s very clear he’s getting at the point if his friend’s imagined situation had come to pass (I’ll just ignore the insinuation right-wing Christian extremist groups don’t exist in the United States) the conversation would be quite different.

In that he would be very correct, but unless he’s arguing the United States should become more like Saudi Arabia — a freakish mix of monarchical and theocratic power — the entire premise of his point means nothing. Of course if the situation were reversed the entire discussion would be radically different. Because the Cordoba Center discussion is playing out the way it is here is testament to the strength of the United States Constitution, and an example of what makes our nation great — truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It’s too bad some actors in this late-summer mini-drama want neither freedom, nor see bravery, in America. Some of those commenting on the center want the power to bulldoze the Constitution and to see fear in the America people.

October 21, 2009

Pat Buchanan at it again

Buchanan is a wildcard as a pundit. He has a lot of very good, very serious ideas — and then he drops a load like this WorldNetDaily piece. Buchanan’s extreme prejudice (undeniable and very public) comes to the surface on a fairly regular basis and essentially undermines any serious points he adds to the overall political circus. Even people who agree with Pat on nine-out-of-ten topics are forced to shut their eyes and hold their noses when he cuts loose with the beleaguered white man act.

The title for the linked piece? “Traditional Americans are losing their nation.” And to make certain you don’t get confused about who these “traditional Americans” are Pat gives you this, “Neither they nor their kids ever benefited from affirmative action, unlike Barack and Michelle Obama.”

And a column like this does the GOP no favors. The party really doesn’t need any more help being defined as that old, white and cranky.

About those Oath Keepers? I truly hope they are just one more marginal group the right wing media is fluffing, because if a large number of ex-military and law enforcement are ready to take up arms against the United States of America however many hinges the crazies have to work with just lost a few supporting  posts.

From the link:

In the brief age of Obama, we have had “truthers,” “birthers,” tea party activists and town-hall dissenters.

Comes now, the “Oath Keepers.” And who might they be?

Writes Alan Maimon in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oath Keepers, depending on where one stands, are “either strident defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia.”

Formed in March, they are ex-military and police who repledge themselves to defend the Constitution, even if it means disobeying orders. If the U.S. government ordered law enforcement agencies to violate Second Amendment rights by disarming the people, Oath Keepers will not obey.

“The whole point of Oath Keepers is to stop a dictatorship from ever happening here,” says founding father Stewart Rhodes, an ex-Army paratrooper and Yale-trained lawyer. “My focus is on the guys with the guns, because they can’t do it without them.

“We say if the American people decide it’s time for a revolution, we’ll fight with you.”

October 14, 2009

Congress and war power

A very sane proposal from the Cato Institute on returning the power to make war back to Congress and bringing back some semblance of the separation of power. The executive branch has co-opted war power, and the results have been not so stellar. The framers of the Constitution created the separation of power for a good reason and the recent power grab by the executive branch really exposes the sound reasoning behind that concept.

One of the reasons I voted for Obama is I thought he offered the best opportunity to get U.S. government back in balance after the Bush 43 administration. I didn’t see any of the GOP candidates making any substantial changes to Cheney’s rollback to the Nixon administration (and then some) and I certainly thought Clinton would have happily grabbed the full reins of an overly empowered White House.

From CATO Today in today’s inbox:

CATO HANDBOOK: RECLAIMING THE WAR POWER

No constitutional principle is more important than congressional control over the decision to go to war. In affairs of state, no more momentous decision can be made. For that reason, in a democratic republic, it is essential that that decision be made by the most broadly representative body: the legislature. In the Reclaiming the War Power chapter of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers, Gene Healy explains why Congress should:


– Cease trying to shirk its constitutional responsibilities in matters of war and peace,


– Insist that hostilities not be initiated by the executive branch unless and until Congress has authorized such action,


– Rediscover the power of the purse as a means of restricting the executive’s ability to wage unnecessary wars, and


– Reform the War Powers Resolution to make it an effective vehicle for restricting unilateral war making by the president.

October 2, 2009

Sunset provisions in the PATRIOT Act …

… offer the Obama administration a great opportunity to overturn a set of horrible, privacy-violating and, most likely, un-Constitutional policies. And get back some of that civil liberties mojo many people voted for when they pulled the lever for Obama.

From the Cato Institute (the first) link:

Civil liberties advocates have hastily revived a campaign to support commonsense limits on government surveillance, but with health-care reform dominating headlines and anxieties about the Bush administration’s excesses fading like the memory of a bad dream, precious little attention is being paid to the PATRIOT renewal debate. But if the Senate declines to press for real reform this week, the issue is unlikely to be taken up again for at least another four years — during which those new powers will only become more entrenched, more heavily relied upon, and more difficult to roll back. It’s no exaggeration to say that today may well be the most important day of the Obama administration for privacy and civil liberties — or the biggest squandered opportunity.

September 19, 2009

Torture and George W. Bush: an indictment

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

Andrew Sullivan has been among the loudest voices in the blogosphere, or anywhere for that matter, on the subject of torture during the Bush 43 Administration’s execution of its “war on terror.” In the October 2009 Atlantic magazine he wrote a fairly long letter to President Bush asking him to help erase the stain this policy has tainted the United States with, and described his essay as “conciliatory.”

At least one Daily Dish reader disagrees with Sullivan and describes the essay as an excellent final summation that, “tried, convicted and sentenced them (Bush Administration officials) all in one grand piece.”

The essay is quite long as web reading standards go, and it is worth the time spent to read the entire piece. It’s fair, thorough, chilling and is filled with not a little sadness of what this nation lost under Bush’s policies.

I’ve done plenty of blogging on this topic and I have Sullivan and others to thank for one, exposing what was happening to the Constitution, our rights and our standing in the world; and two, for keeping this difficult topic in front of minds and eyeballs that would most likely prefer to ignore and move on.

If you believe the torture was only done to “others” who are out to get Americans and don’t deserve any rights, I’ll excerpt what happened to a United States citizen — stripped of all rights, all dignity and in the end humanity. If you cherish your rights and the Constitution of the United States, this tale outlines in detail why you should fear the George W. Bush presidency and the idea its precepts could ever return in any form.

From the Andrew Sullivan essay, “Dear President Bush,”:

I want to mention one other human being, an American, Jose Padilla. I do not doubt that Padilla had been a troubled youth and had disturbing and dangerous contacts with radical Islamists. You were right to detain him. But what was then done to him—after a charge (subsequently dropped) that he was intent on detonating a nuclear or “dirty” bomb in an American city—remains a matter of grave concern. This was a U.S. citizen, seized on American soil at O’Hare Airport and imprisoned for years without a day in court. He was sequestered in a brig and, his lawyers argued,

was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity.

Among the techniques allegedly used on American soil against this American citizen were isolation (sometimes for weeks on end) for a total of 1,307 days in a nine-by-seven-foot cell, sleep deprivation effected by lights and loud music and noise, and sensory deprivation. He was goggled and earmuffed to maintain a total lack of spatial orientation, even when being treated for a tooth problem. He lost track of days and nights and lived for years in a twilight zone of pain and fear. His lawyer Andrew Patel explained:

Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors …

After four years in U.S. custody, Padilla was reduced to a physical and mental shell of a human being. Here is Patel’s description of how Padilla appeared in his pretrial meetings:

During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body. The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel.

Mr. President, if you heard of a citizen of Iran being treated this way by the Iranian government, what would you call it?

May 16, 2009

Dick Cheney and the Constitution

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:41 pm

Sully, as usual, nails it.

From the link:

America is not by virtue of being America somehow immune from the same evil that has occurred throughout human history; and the human beings running the American government are no more and no less human than those who controlled ghastly regimes in the past.

In fact, the American constitution makes no sense unless you see this. The founders assumed that Americans are as bad and as good as anyone else; and that therefore the rule of law and constitutional checks and balances are our only guarantee against tyranny. When the Cheney wing of the GOP asserts that the executive has the capacity to do anything to anyone outside the constitution and the law, and that it is also empowered to use torture to acquire “intelligence”, then the entire ballgame is over. You have given a few people the power to destroy others without due process and to create reality to buttress their power. If Democrats had done this, rule of law conservatives would have exhibited no less outrage than I have.

April 9, 2009

Tim Egan v. 2nd Amendment

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:26 am

This is one insipid op-ed piece at the New York Times. Raw emotional appeal, no argument and a whole lot of nanny state dreamin’.

From the (very weak) link:

We hear about these sketches of carnage between market updates and basketball scores — and shrug. We’re the frogs slow-boiling in the pot, taking it all in incrementally until we can’t feel a thing. We shrug because that’s the deal, right? That’s the pact we made, the price of Amendment number two to the Constitution, right after freedom of speech.

April 7, 2009

Medicine and torture

As more and more details on the Bush 43 administration’s unprecedented use of torture come to light, most Americans will experience increasing outrage  I’ve been blogging on the topic since essentially day one of this blog, and I’m still shocked by the level of deception administration officials presented Americans while violating the Constitution, United States law and international law.

Implementing torture is a stain on our history that must be brought into the open and dealt with. No less than the national honor of the United States is at stake.

This particular detail is one more heartbreaking element to an already soiled tale.

From the second link:

Medical personnel were deeply involved in the abusive interrogation of terrorist suspects held overseas by the Central Intelligence Agency, including torture, and their participation was a “gross breach of medical ethics,” a long-secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded.

And to make the unthinkable even worse:

Facilitating such practices, which the Red Cross described as torture, was a violation of medical ethics even if the medical workers’ intentions had been to prevent death or permanent injury, the report said. But it found that the medical professionals’ role was primarily to support the interrogators, not to protect the prisoners, and that the professionals had “condoned and participated in ill treatment.”

At times, according to the detainees’ accounts, medical workers “gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods.”

December 22, 2008

Dick Cheney, enemy of the people

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:22 pm

He’s gone on record admitting to advocating, promoting and authorizing a war crime. And he’s still wiping his ass with the Constitution and gloating about it.

Sullivan does a great job of summing things up here.

From the link:

And Cheney’s colorful explanation of this theory is also extremely revealing:

 

The president of the United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States.

He could launch a kind of devastating attack the world’s never seen. He doesn’t have to check with anybody. He doesn’t have to call the Congress. He doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in.

What Cheney is saying is that if the president of the United States has the power to destroy all civilization alone, he has the power to do anything up to and including that. Chris Wallace asks the right questions, but it is very telling that he didn’t ask about torture. I presume that was agreed by Fox and Cheney in advance. I can see no other reason for the lacuna.

But what we know with real clarity is the following: the vice-president long ago became an enemy to the Constitution and to all it represents. He should have been impeached long ago; and the shamelessness of his exit makes prosecution all the more vital. If we let this would-be dictator do what he has done to the constitution and get away with it, the damage to the American idea is deep and permanent.

December 16, 2008

Celebrating the 217th anniversary of the Bill of Rights

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:39 pm

Can’t believe I missed this yesterday, the actual anniversary of the ratification of the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

From the ACLU blog link:

Our march toward justice has been long and not without setback, but as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once reminded us, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” His words have special resonance for me today, the 217th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, as this dark period in history draws to a close. Under the guise of safety and security, we have endured continual assaults on the basic principles on which this country rests: civil rights and liberties, open and limited government and a basic respect for the rule of law. Come January, Americans could have an opportunity to restore the vitality of our Bill of Rights, and resume the struggle to turn America into the place that Dr. King dreamed of where “justice runs down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

October 3, 2008

Veep debate answers key question

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:06 pm

The reactions to last night’s debate have been highly predictable, with the exception of a few members of the right-wing punditry who before today have been fairly sober. Today everyone who liked Palin is promoting her style-over-substance as a positive.

My take is the key (unasked) question of the debate was answered.

The question: If the next president of the United States were to be assassinated by a terrorist, who would you prefer to take over as president? Palin or Biden?

The choice is between a long-time senator in Biden who in that terrible moment understands the office, and can personally call on lawmakers current and retired from both parties for advice, guidance and aid. Biden as president frightens me, but I would trust him completely to handle the immediate crisis and threat.

The other option is a self-described — really self-touted — complete and total outsider to Washington, D.C., who, once again self-described, would bring “Main Street” Wasilla, Alaska, to the table because as Palin put it last night, that’s what DC needs right now.

I know which I’d choose and which one would make me honestly fear for our nation.

Everyone who is happy with Palin’s “knockout performance” of style-over-substance, welcome to a Untied States led by Sarah Palin with her main street Wasilla bona fides.

I also don’t want to hear about any hypothetical “emergency plan” where Palin didn’t actually take over as president. I think the Constitution laid out presidential succession very clearly and I don’t think any party should be monkeying with that document. The GOP of old would agree with me whole-heartedly.

Vice presidential picks are always considered politically with the caveat being the politically expedient choice is also a plausible president in their own right. Palin is not that by any stretch and McCain essentially gave the American electorate the finger when he chose her as his running mate.

Last night’s vice presidential debate answered the key question, even if it went unasked.