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January 27, 2005

No on Gonzales. The much-signed-onto Kos statement is here. A longer list of blogs endorsing it is here. Sign us up.

Jeanne D’Arc puts it best:

[04:53 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on No on Gonzales.:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2005, 05:02 PM:

As usual, Giblets has the last word:

Giblets has decreed Iraq to be free and now it is! Oh sure, not in the petty "liberal democracy with equal protection under the law" sense. But in the "infested with terrorists" sense it's as free as they come! Once Iraqis were tortured and killed by an evil dictator. Now they are tortured and killed by freedom! Their genitals are shocked with the electrodes of liberty. They are mowed down by the machine guns of independence!

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Kos said he wasn't taking any more names, so I sent mine to the linked places, and now to one more.

For reasons all who hang out here should understand, I've been againt Bertie "It's only torture if they die" Gonzales from the get go, and haven't been exactly shy about saying so.

He may be the most frightening person in this administration.


Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2005, 08:52 PM:

The Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 along party lines. "Leahy said his main concern with Gonzales is his support as White House counsel for loosening the ban on torture by American personnel of suspected terrorists." [AP]

(1) People who live in states with Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee should send a snailmail "thank you!"

(2) People who live in states with Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee should send a snailmail "not quite what I wanted from you."

(3) People in the USA but not in (1-2) above should snailmail their senators to express a desire that, as constituents, their opinion should be considered when the full Senate debates Gonzales.

Online activism is important, but congress and senate-beings' staffs count snailmail very carefully.

"Lightning rods" can be removed when there's enough of this. Consider Undersecretary Feith's resignation announcement today...

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2005, 11:21 PM:

Clearly those of us who thought Dubya couldn't find anyone worse than Ashcroft misunderestimated him again.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 02:59 AM:

Senate Judiciary Committee members.

But since it's passed out of committee, write your Senator--let's see how many Senators we can get to vote against torture. Contact information at Project Vote Smart.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 02:25 PM:

Can I get Jeanne D'Arc's thing on a t-shirt? I want one.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 12:16 PM:

I rather doubt that too many Senators will have the balls to vote against Gonzales, lest they be percieved as "soft on terror". Expect to hear that phrase even more if AG faces a serious challenge in the Senate. Remember 9-11 changed everything. Kind of the way the Reichstag fire did.

Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 11:28 PM:

Oh yeah..if there's a tee shirt with this on it, I will get one and proudly wear it!

And people though the next 4 years couldn't get any worse...

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2005, 02:41 AM:

I am happy to say that my senior Senator from California is not soft on torture.

Senator Feinstein Opposes Gonzales Nomination

“With much regret, I have decided to vote no on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be the next Attorney General. I do not believe he has been candid with the Judiciary Committee about his views on torture or its use despite repeated questions about the issue.

I don't always agree with Senator Feinstein; she tends to emphasize law 'n order over constitutional rights. But even she is not going to get on the wrong side of this issue. I think we should give the Democrats more credit. They aren't soft on torture, and they aren't going to be.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2005, 04:05 AM:

I find it increasingly surreal, as a life-long reader of fantasy, to watch Good and Evil creep into politics. Five years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of anything political being inherently good, or any politician being inherently evil. I thought of things as being much messier and less clear-cut than your average swords-and-sorcery epic.

And yet, here we are, and I find myself saying with a straight face, "Voting against Gonzales was an act of Good, for he is an agent of Evil." I don't expect to think about real life occurances that way. Makes me wonder when I slipped into this dimension, and whether I should be watching out for my evil twin.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 11:24 AM:

Well I know for sure I don't belong in this dimension. I belong in the one where the second Gore inaugural just took place, where the 9/11 hijackers were caught before they could get on the planes, and where George W. Bush is in jail for driving under the influence of cocaine.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 01:45 PM:

Senator Cantwell of Washington has announced she will vote against Gonzales. See my webpage to read all about it.


Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2005, 02:23 AM:

I don't know if you guys have been watching. Though the outcome's been clear for a while, I haven't been able to stop. And despite Lieberman, Salazar, Nelson, Nelson, Pryor and Landrieu's best efforts, I'm glad I didn't. They did us proud out there, they really did. From Reid to Reed to Durbin to Kennedy to Obama to Leahy (twice) to Byrd to Feingold to Dodd, who made great speeches that they haven't posted, to Jeff Bingaman obscure senator from the state with the highest % of latino population in the country, who was not going to be cowed by Orrin Hatch's smarmy and patronizing attempts to play the race card.

The Republicans didn't have an answer. They really didn't. Not one of them--not Lindsey Graham, not Lugar, not Snowe, not Hagel, not Chafee, not John forchrissake McCain--voted no. Only one abstained, and it was only because he was busy shilling for Bush's social security plan in Montana. But the ones you might have thought better of for the most part wouldn't actually speak on Gonzales' behalf, either. Instead it was left to Cornyn, Bunning, Hatch about 4 times, Specter 3 times, McConnell, Allard, all mechanically reciting the same lame talking points. The vote ended up feeling like the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees, but the debate was more like the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals.

I wanted them to filibuster, was very angry at them for not doing so. Not only Kennedy but also Durbin obviously really wanted to, and Reid didn't seem totally averse. But when the voting started it became clear why not: they just didn't have the votes. In Reid's place, I can't say that I would have chosen to take the wuss caucus to the wall on this one--not with the vote total uncertain no matter what you do, and the threat of the "nuclear option" on filibusters, and the social security debate coming up.

It's not a proud day to be an American, but it is a prouder day to be a Democrat than I remember in a while.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2005, 10:02 AM:

Yeah, I was disappointed in Lindsay Graham, too, although I can only imagine what the smackdown would have been if he had voted "No."

On the other hand, the WaPo gleefully described just how much time he spent not applauding during the State of the Union address, and threw in the added bonus that he evidently has characterized the President's pet "Malpractice Reform" legislation as "stupid." Throw in on top of that the fact that he was one of the three Republicans who agreed with Waxman and signed a letter to the DoJ urging a criminal investigation into the theft of the Democratic Judiciary memos, and he's moved way to the top of the GOP League Table in my book.

My favorite Graham story, however, is a tale recounted by some of Tom Daschle's former staffers, about how Graham used to sneak over to Daschle's office after hours, when the GOP leadership wasn't looking, to work on legislation — just like the Democrats were an actual part of the government, or something!

Well, you can see why he had to keep that sort of thing on the QT, right?

Anyway, one late night, as he was leaving Daschle's office, he evidently paused in the doorway, turned around, and dramatically proclaimed, "Lindsay Graham: Republican by Day... but Democrat by Night!" before sweeping out with a flourish.

All I can say is, I sure don't remember him being anywhere near that cool when I was living in South Carolina. I think he's taken this whole "being a Senator" thing to heart.

Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2005, 10:43 AM:

Oh man, I was trying not to like him after this but you just made it impossible.
Here's Dodd.

This was the part of Reid's speech that stunned me:

"I will say a word about the interrogation techniques that were authorized. They included forced nakedness, forced shaving of beards, and the use of dogs, just to name a few. Many are specifically designed to attack the prisoner's cultural and religious taboos. In describing them, the similarities to what eventually happened at Abu Ghraib are obvious. Once you order an 18-year-old, a young man or woman, to strip prisoners naked, to force them into painful positions, to shave their beards in violation of their religious beliefs, to lock them alone in the dark and cold, how do you tell him to stop? You cannot.

We have seen the pictures of naked men stacked on top of each other in the so-called pyramid; rapes of men, rapes of women, leading in some cases to death."

First of all, that was incredibly brave of him to say. Second of all, did he just inadvartently leak information about the classified pictures from Abu Ghraib they saw?

Tonya Liburd ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 12:10 AM:

Hi there; I may have come into this late, but I'd like to add something here, if I may.

I think it's imperative that we take a step back and heed what Heresiarch has echoed.

It's all too easy to want to find one person to blame, to find a scapegoat, rather than to examine the whole organism for its functioning. As young ones, we're taught that there are "bad" people out there, and everything wrong happening in the world in stories and movies has one evil mastermind. As adults, let's not kid ourselves, and try to deny the fact that for every public persona who resides in positions of office that we see, there are many behind the scenes who pull strings and drive the machine - whether they hold official positions or not. Ask yourself:- what sort of political (societal?) culture exists that would allow someone with this man's intentions to gain a foothold? And what are his connections, personal, organisational, corporate or other, that support/maintain him? Perhaps he's the facilitator of some larger, unseen body's agenda?

People using this as a way to gain popularity now, and who may also in the future end up doing something similar, is also something I think should be kept in mind. (I know here in Toronto, everyone seemed fed up with Bob Rae and voted Mike Harris in without thinking. Then he was *way* worse, and they wanted Dalton McGuinty, who promised to roll back things Mike Harris and his gov't started... which has yet to happen...)

It's also all too easy not to take a step back, and take a look at the bigger picture; and at the risk of ruffling feathers, I'll mention one other thing:- the societal attitudes and the (in my opinion) neurotic inability/unwillingness to examine ourselves, that allowed things to come to this.

Are we mad because this makes Americans look bad, or because it truly is beyond grossly unacceptable?

Why is it only when things come to a head do we start to look at things like this? Why not keep a constant, active vigil on the machinations of the system?

Ever since this 9/11 thing started, I've heard constant, continuous descriptions of these people as "animals". Any small wonder the military, part of the populace fed with images and opinions from corporate media to demonize and dehumanize these peoples, would treat them with the similar disdain they believe others would inflict, had they the chance?

I apologize in advance if this stirs up anything unsavoury; such was not my intent. Just a few thoughts.

Be well.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:05 AM:

. . . the societal attitudes and the (in my opinion) neurotic inability/unwillingness to examine ourselves, that allowed things to come to this.

Two paragraphs ago you were suggesting a large hidden conspiracy behind. Which is it? The Illuminati, or the Dullard Demos?

Here goes the obligatory Nazi reference: Eichmann was a petty functionary who rose to (modest) power by assembling a plan for acts that everybody knew was wrong. He didn't kill anybody; he facilitated the killing. He wasn't a great intellect; he wasn't even an interesting human being, as Hannah Arendt memorably pointed out.

Are we mad because this makes Americans look bad, or because it truly is beyond grossly unacceptable?

Any reason why it can't be both? The French who detest le Pen both find his views repellent and are ashamed, not that such a person might run for office -- that is what open elections are about -- but that he should attract so much support. They are not wrong to see this as making their nation "look bad" in other people's eyes. Berlusconi is a similar (not identical) case; both those countries were run by fascist regimes in living memory.

I could ask who the "we" in the quote is, since you keep reminding us that you have-not-and-never-been American, but nobody has a monopoly on bad public figures, and everyone can feel an honest embarrassment at them, and for their subjects.

Any small wonder the military, part of the populace fed with images and opinions from corporate media to demonize and dehumanize these peoples, would treat them with the similar disdain they believe others would inflict, had they the chance?

It's never required "corporate media" for prison guards to mistreat prisoner; that existed when "media" meant stone tablets. Nor is it the exclusive property of any nation or people to demonize their enemies (real or perceived), as a glance through the Authorized Version of 1611 will show. Cruelty toward enemy soldiers is nothing novel, either; the Red Cross, and the Geneva Conventions, weren't abstract humanitarian ideas; like that other besieged document, the US Bill of Rights, they were direct responses to visible situations. The patterns of fascism are old patterns, just as the fasces is an old emblem. So are the patterns of brutality toward those who can't fight back.

Tonya Liburd ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:44 AM:

Hey there, John Ford.

Sorry to see I may have elicited a knee-jerk reaction there.

Obviously I don't think the US has "a monopoly on bad public figures" since I've stated my own city and province's officials as examples. (I'll question me "keep reminding us" that I "have-not-and-never-been American" also; that's more of an attempt at personal characterisation and denigration, no?)

The point I'm trying to make: rather than make the error of focusing on individual figures, to try and take a step back and look at the systemic problems that lie, not just in institutions, but the the public psyche at large. The subject *does* appear to be American politics and foreign policy, no?

I've sort of heard of the Illuminati, but you'll have to enlightn me on just what specifically they are. Really sorry? (grin)

Be well.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 09:51 AM:

Sorry to see I may have elicited a knee-jerk reaction there.


that's more of an attempt at personal characterisation and denigration, no?


The subject *does* appear to be American politics and foreign policy, no?

Not exclusively.

I can't make any sense of what your "subject" is. Well, maybe there are mysterious unnamed people behind Gonzales. No, maybe it's the zeitgeist. Unless it's "the system." Yes, there's plenty of responsibility to go around, but you haven't made one solid point about anything, or cited a single fact, just tossed out some general unease. You speak of "since this 9/11 thing," as if the inclination to fascism (even just the American inclination) began then. If you seriously want to talk about the "systemic problems," a bit of historical depth, not to mention specificity, would be useful.

I'm not angry, and I don't believe you're trolling (though the "well, I'm terribly, terribly sorry if what I'm about to say upsets anyone, these are just my thoughts" construction is a standard rhetorical rimshot). It would just be more useful if you had a concrete point to make, rather than a vague wave in the direction of larger issues. There are always larger issues. But you can't fight fog. You certaintly can't fight it with more fog.

Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 12:19 PM:

But you can't fight fog. You certaintly can't fight it with more fog.

But that would be a cool story.

[deep voice]You can't fight fog... except with more fog!
Coming soon: Beware of Fog![/deep voice]

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:05 PM:


Must be early somewhere in the world.

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 04:20 PM:

John M. Ford:

Is it early in here, or is it just me?

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 07:59 PM:

Wasn't PKD fond of fog?

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 10:53 AM:

And didn't Sir Arthur C. Clarke, as described in his wonderful autobiographical novel "Glide Path," describe the secret development in WW II of radar for landing planes in fog?

So if PKD and ACC collaborated on a novel about high-tech torture, disinformation, and war against WMD that didn't exist... and it was made into a movie by Kubrick...?

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 09:21 AM:

This building scandal is yet another "We told you so" incident coming along in Australia, related to the kind of consequences warned about developments in the USA and UK as well.
Every Coalition MP is guilty if no heads roll over Rau

A few other links about the Cornelia Rau story:
Odyssey of a lost soul and its associated issues
Vanstone in new mental health row
Out of mind


Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 02:41 PM:


First of all, to put in a good word for Australia:

"Australia's leading regions are also well poised to compete as global creative centers, according to detailed benchmarking data compiled by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research. Its two largest regions, Sydney and Melbourne, would rank approximately fourth or fifth if they were U.S. regions. Their creative classes are similar in size to those of Boston or Seattle. ... Creative occupations make up fully half the workforce in central Sydney (51.1%) and central Melbourne (49.5%) -- far greater than in any inner city in the U.S."
[Richard Florida, "America's Looming Creativity Crisis", Harvard Business Review, Oct 2004, p.136]

On the story you link to:

"Amanda Vanstone told the Senate Estimates committee today that her job was to defend her department. She does not represent the Australian people; she represents herself, her Prime Minister, and her public 'servants'. Her department, its top officers admitted today, has not even collected the facts yet, the excuse for failing even to produce a timeline of what happened, when and where...."

On the other hand, I've got to give Amanda credit for honestly describing bureaucratic priorities.

In the same way, the current US administration figures would score a few points if they stopped 100% lying and started saying the equivalent, for instance:

"My job is to defend The Department of Fatherland Security. I do not represent the American people, or any of those aliens in Gitmo; I represent myself, the personal whims of Emperor Bush II, and his public 'servants' -- also known as Praetorian Guards. Oh, and the greatest philosopher, Jesus, who personally removed a pretzel from the president's throat, preventing choking and premature-Cheney-inauguration. My department, its top officers admitted today, has not even collected the facts yet. Because who needs facts in what we call a Reality-Based government?"

rkent ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 03:49 PM:

Dear Electrolite:

Just a quick note to invite you and your readership to visit (velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com) and hopefully add us to your blogs listings, as we are addressing many of the same issues. all best,