Monday, December 31, 2007

New York Times Rings in the New Year

Just after the breath of fresh air in the Kristol hiring, the editors at the New York Times are back to their old ways.

To wit: This morning's editorial, "
Looking at America." I imagine with all of the lefties up in arms over Kristol's new gig - threatening to cancel their subscriptions - the Times had to get back in good graces with the radical base!

The editors provide a rehash of the "restoring moral credibility" attack against the Bush administration's war on terror, at home and abroad:

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.
Fear of terrorism? These folks are watching too many of those neo-totalitarian movies!

Memeorandum for some commentary.

I like Jules Crittenden's take on NYT's lofty "ideals":

Ideals are great. Imagine the possibilities if the editorial board with a preference for genocide had some. NYT has had a little trouble remembering where it put its ideals, however, perhaps distracted by its eagerness for the United States to lose the war NYT had lost interest in covering.
At least we'll have some old-fashioned left-wing editorial continuity in the new year!


UPDATE: I took a little spin around some of the lefty blogs posting on this, and
FireDogLake's entry is worthy of the end-of-the-year over-the-top blogging award (if there's such a thing)! Check it out:

As we look into the mirror to see what our country has become, one cannot help but feel contempt for the passivity -- or is it complicity -- with which the "opposition party" and an indolent media acquiesced in one outrage after another. Do the leaders of the Democratic Party truly condemn the Administration's actions? Do they feel the revulsion and disgust in the pits of their stomachs? And if so, why are they not demanding full disclosure, accountability, censure and removal from office for the most criminal regime in our history?

Glenn Greenwald reminds us the Democrats have been complicit in the Administration's illegal spying, in waging illegal wars, in creating a CIA monster, in sanctioning torture, in destroying the 4th Amendment, in illegal kidnappings and detentions and the assault on habeas corpus, and in creating kangaroo courts. As much as the Administration's arrogant defiance and contempt for the rule of law, the Democrat's meek protests and their refusals time and again to stand up to these outrages dismayed their supporters and created a sense of helplessness, a feeling there is nothing our political institutions can or will do to do cure this sickness.

The most obvious remedy, the one expressly designed for this purpose, sits unused for reasons no one can credibly explain or defend. I suspect historians will look back on Nancy Pelosi's decision to take impeachment off the table and describe it as one of the most cowardly, unprincipled and damaging statements ever uttered by a national leader. It has left America defenseless against an onslaught of lawlessness.

The Administration is destroying who America is, what it stands for, why it's important. And with only a few exceptions like Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and others, the Democrats are not vowing to save it. They're not even acknowledging the travesty that every American can read in every day's headlines.

Now a new set of leaders is seeking our votes. What have they done to earn our trust? They have some interesting proposals to deal with other problems, but the front runners are not speaking to the destruction of our Constitutional system, they're not demanding accountability for the damage that has been done and a return to the rule of law. They're playing it safe.

But this is not a time for people who lack political courage. Who among them will step up and say what must be done?

What is to be done? FDL's post here looks like a call to revolution. It's frankly a repudiation of the two-party system and the very constitutional structure about which Scarecrow purportedly frets.

Like NYT, FDL's game is demonization of this administration for adopting a unitary executive theory of presidential power, for acting on neoconservative foreign policy principles to uphold international law, and for making no apologies in fighting the terrorists here and abroad.

Scarecrow's right about one thing:
The Democrats have indeed been a disaster! It's a good thing the separation of powers is working as the Founders intended. Pelosi and company don't have the votes to ram through their extremely partisan agenda, a program made more unpalatable, frankly, by the party's kowtowing to netroot hordes of the likes of FireDogLake!

Interestingly, no matter how far the Democrats tilt to the left, there are always demands for more: Unless we have impeachment proceedings to rein in the "most criminal regime" in history, the revolutionary masses will continue their campaign to extract untold tons of flesh.

Elections aren't enough: Even after winning the congressional majority, and even as
the Democrats are looking at the best electoral environment in decades, hard-left forces continue their call for Bush's head with just over a year to go for the administration.


Well, you see,
we've become a fascist dictatorship according to the unruly mobs of the left-wing. It's punishment they want: Punishment for Afghanistan (can you believe it?), for Iraq, for Guantanamo, for John Ashcroft, for John Bolton, for John Roberts - any poor old John they can get their hands on!

Look out John Doe on mainstreet - you're next! To the guillotines!

FDL and their hordes (don't forget the Kos crowd) would make Robespierre look like an amateur.

You say you want a revolution? Voting Democratic's not going to be enough this year, if the hardline netroots have their way!

Enough for now. It's going to be a busy 2008 for us neoconservatives!


UPDATE II: My commenter Libby mentioned she checked the comments to NYT's editorial. I checked them out myself, reading about a dozen or so. This one caught my attention:

All of these horrific acts are done for the primary purpose of testing what the American public will go along with. Every Republican and conservative since Richard Nixon has had an agenda to push the policies of this country further and further towards a totalitarian state. The benefit of 9/11 was that it gave the American public an amorphous enemy to fear. Therefore to defend against what the public fears it is necessary to have a strong government to defend them.
This one's interesting as well:

I believe that all you have said about the Bush administration is true. It's what you didn't say - about the role of the Democrat controlled Congress in righting all of these wrongs - that I find surprising. Yes, the next president will have a lot to do cleaning up this mess, but that person could be given a useful head start is Congress were to shine the light on the Bush administration in the way the Constitution says it should: by holding impeachment hearings on the matters of the actions of both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. My question for the editorial board of the Times is: Why didn't you call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney? You seem to have outlined the case for doing so, but you haven't said the magic word, "Impeach". I am as mystified by this omission.
I'm sure many of these folks find themselves right at home over at FDL or Daily Kos.

from my comment thread, was mystified by the analysis here, so let me just remind readers to brush up on their French history a bit:

The goal of the constitutional government is to conserve the Republic; the aim of the revolutionary government is to found it... The revolutionary government owes to the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death.. These notions would be enough to explain the origin and the nature of laws that we call revolutionary ... If the revolutionary government must be more active in its march and more free in his movements than an ordinary government, is it for that less fair and legitimate? No; it is supported by the most holy of all laws: Martin Guerre! (Martin Guerre:"safety/welfare/or salvation of the people").
Robespierre presaging Scarecrow, or Glenn Greenwald?