Civil Rights and President Obama: the Second Inaugural Address

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall,”

Inaugural Addresses, particularly second addresses are not generally remembered.  There is John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not” address and there is Lincoln’s Second address.  You could throw in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second.

Lincoln said these now famous words

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

FDR noted the 150th anniversary of the Constitutional Convention and spoke about the role of government.

“We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster.”

and pointed out that success would be judged not by adding wealth to those who already had wealth but whether it could

“provide enough for those who [had] too little.”

Add to the great second inaugural speeches of Roosevelt and Lincoln, Barack Obama’s.

John Nichols writing in the Nation said Obama’s speech “charts the arc of history that bends toward justice.”  The President took on  the unfinished business of civil rights – in equal pay for women, voting rights for minorities, and equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans.  He said

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.

Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.

Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.

Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task, to make these works, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American.

He echoed FDR

“We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few,”

I think the speech showed that second terms can liberate and that his second term will see him push unapologetically for an agenda that includes everyone – even Republicans if they choose to listen.

Photographs: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times and Doug Mills/The New York Times

The afternoon before Iowa

Yesterday we were out in South Hadley having our traditional family Japanese New Year brunch when talk turned to the 2012 election season and to Nate Silver’s piece in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times.  Some very interesting stuff there.

For example:  Iowa is 91% white (the entire country is 74% white).  You knew that, right?  Did you know there are so few Jewish people, they don’t register as a percentage?  But, except for race and the fact the Jews did not migrate to Iowa, the state is a fairly good mirror.  Oh, except for turnout.  Iowa wins 67 to 57.   Iowa and New Hampshire have each picked 10 of the eventual nominees.  Iowa does better with Democrats picking 6 while NH has picked 5 from each party.  They have each picked the President correctly 3 times with Iowa having the most recent pick, President Obama.  The track record is not particularly spectacular, but all the candidates  are flocking there and political junkies are watching polls eagerly.

John Nichols writes in the Nation that the Republican candidates and their PACs will have spent upwards of $200 per vote when you count only television advertising.  Kinda of nuts.

Seriously? All this for an glorified straw poll?

That’s the problem with the caucus system, which operates on an only slightly better model on the Democratic side.

Huge amounts of money are spent to influence a very small percentage of the electorate—less than 20 percent of Iowans who are likely to vote Republican in November will participate in Tuesday’s caucuses, and most of them will leave after the balloting finishes. An even smaller number of Iowans will begin the process of choosing representatives to county conventions, who in turn elect delegates to district and state conventions at which Iowa’s national delegates are actually selected.

As of lunch time today, Real Clear Politics shows  Romney edging out Paul 22.8% to 21.5%.  Romney is not even projected to get as many votes as he did in 2008- 25.2%.  Nate Silver has the race a little closer with Romney edging out Paul 21.8 to 21.  It is all in how you weight the various polls.  Throw in an estimated 41% undecided and Iowa is anyone’s game.  I think it is a measure of the field that Republican’s can’t decide who to support.  Poor Jon Huntsman.  We all agreed yesterday that is the only sensible one in the bunch so he has no chance.  Probably lucky for Obama.

Rosie Moser, an undecided voter thinking of endorsing Michelle Bachmann, listened to former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in Independence, Iowa, on Monday.

(Daniel Acker for The New York Times)

Speaking of the President. he has been organizing in Iowa for more than a year and has more field offices that any of the Republicans.  It is will be interesting to see what the Democratic turn out is tomorrow night for a caucus that is already decided.  The link is to an interesting video on the Obama efforts from the New York Times

I think the polls are all done and we only need to wait for the caucus goers to speak.

Misinformation and the disappearance of moderate Republican

Long title without an obvious connection.  I was reading John Nichols in the Nation about Australian politics and their equivalent of the old moderate Republican which he calls an endangered species followed by an opinion piece in Politico about the disinformation age by Neal Gabler.  Thinking about it I realized that the two were related.  The demise of the moderate Republican has destroyed the ability of Democrats and Republicans to have a conversation in a civil facts and it now threatens the ability of either party to govern.

Nichols writes

Growing up in Middle West in the latter half of the 20th century, I was surrounded by moderate Republicans of the old “Main Street” school—former Ilowa Congressman Jim Leach, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, former Illinois Senator Chuck Percy and former Illinois Congressman John Anderson, former Wisconsin Governor Warren Knowles and former Wisconsin Congressman Bill Steiger—all of whom embraced environmental, civil rights and clean government principles that made them worthy competitors with the Democrats at election time and worthy governing partners when the voting was done.

The suggestion that Leach, Steiger, Percy or Anderson might find a place in today’s Republican Party would provoke laughter in anyone familiar with the contemporary definition of the term “tea party.” Like the great modern Republicans of the recent past: former President Dwight Eisenhower, former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, former New York City Mayor John Lindsay, former Massachusetts Senator Ed Brooke, former Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker and dozens of other national leaders, the Midwest’s moderate Republicans would be about as likely to secure a Republican nomination these days as Barack Obama. (In point of fact, Obama’s governing style, with its emphasis on compromise and seeking private-sector solutions rather than classic governmental fixes, owes more to the moderate Republican tradition than to the liberal Democratic model of a Franklin Roosevelt.) 

He contrasts the situation with Australia.

In Australia, I’ve appeared with Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, the former leader of the conservative opposition party that’s roughly equivalent to the American Republicans. (They’re called “Liberals.” But that’s a reference to the traditional European term for fans of free markets and limited regulation.)

Turnbull, a former journalist who made millions in business, is enthusiastic about the private sector and more than willing to score government bureaucracy. But he is not a cookie-cutter conservative. A genuine “republican,” he wants to cut Australia’s last ties to the British Commonwealth and make the country a republic. A convert to Catholicism, he breaks with the church to support reproductive rights and stem cell research. He backs gay and lesbian rights. He’s concerned about climate change. A tech-savvy blogger who reads the ancient Greeks on his Kindle, he’s in the thick of Australia’s debate about how to build a state-of-the-art national broadband system.

Nichols points out that Turnbull is in the same mold as David Cameron, the new prime minister of England who is partnering with the Liberal Party.  I thought it a strange coalition, but is it different from Everett Dirksen working with Lyndon Johnson to pass legislation?  Probably not.

[I think Dirksen is the man in glasses to the right of Johnson in the picture]

 So how have we lost the ability to have a civil dialogue?  The internet and blogs like this one.  Fox News and MSNBC.  The fall of the non-partisan television news program.  The decline in newspaper readership.  Or all of the above.

Gabler writes

The recent Pew Research Center poll revealed that 18 percent of respondents believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a whopping 43 percent are unsure exactly what religion he practices. This is disheartening on many levels — not least that it illustrates an astonishing degree of ignorance.

It is unlikely, however, that Americans are dumber now than they were, say, 25 years ago. With more of us attending college, we might even be smarter. But higher education rates and easier access to information have been undermined by what amounts to a vast and insidious revolutionary force — a kind of anti-Enlightenment in which facts yield to rumor, reason to uninformed opinion and objectivity to proudly declared subjectivity.

We swim in a limitless sea of misinformation, even disinformation, without much inclination to separate truth from fiction.

Is this a flaw in the American character, this inability to recognize the truth?  Gabler reaches back to de Tocqueville and his observation that Americans believe that they are all equal.  Some how truth has become a tool of the elite.

Daniel Moynihan famously said that everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. Well, Moynihan spoke too soon. From the political shoutfests on TV and radio to the endless drone of sports radio callers to the millions of vanity blogs, opinion has rapidly become fact.

The idea that there is such a thing as verifiable truth — such as Obama being a Christian — is increasingly seen as elitist. It’s as if truth were yet another scheme by the powerful to impose their will on everyone else.

This overzealous sense of democracy has been encouraged by the right-wing, which has a stake in taking on science and evidence because these things are often likely to betray the tenets of their beliefs. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered one example of informational demagoguery on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, saying “I take the president at his word” that he is a Christian.

So why is the Republican leadership so anxious to appear unintelligent and unable to stand up to the facts?  Is that why the moderate Republican is an endangered species?  Gabler believes that we are entering a post-Enlightenment era.

Steven Colbert has jokingly snarled that facts are liberal. The problem for the right is that facts are stubborn, so when you disagree with them — whether it is global warming or evolution or the effect of tax cuts on economic growth — you want to substitute your own “facts” for the allegedly objective ones.

Indeed, of the multitude of ways that President George W. Bush changed America, this may have been the most important. He helped legitimize the idea of individual truth. In doing so, he became the first president to challenge the old Enlightenment foundation on which this country was established.

Nichols points out

What makes Turnbull most like the American moderate Republicans of old is his style. When we shared the platform at the Walkley Foundation’s forum on election coverage, he was confident, not arrogant. His wit was quick and cutting. He refused to dumb things down and he knew how to charm an audience that might not have liked his party but did like him.

“He refused to dumb things down….”  And that is still another issue.  When you have your own facts, you don’t have to think too hard or work to uncover the truth.  You don’t have to plow though any real investigative reporting or read anything that isn’t on your favorite internet site (one that agrees with you, of course).  You can reduce complex issues to slogans.

It is a rainy night here in Boston and I’m feeling pessimistic, but sometimes it is very hard to think we aren’t entering a dark age when along comes this breaking news:   Former moderate Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has endorsed the liberal Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak.  Do you suppose that the moderate Republicans might just save the Democratic party since they don’t seem to have a place in the Republican Party?

 

The Afghanistan War Logs

Someone has leaked six years worth of classified documents about the war in Afghanistan through a website called WikiLeaks.org. 

White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, and National Security Advisor, James Jones, have both condemned the leaks.  The White House is also using them to explain why the President ordered the increase in troops. But what do they really show?  The Afghanistan War Logs show that there are probably a lot more civilian casualties than we thought; the insurgents have weapons that can shoot down our military aircraft; and there is a lot of corruption by warlords and government in Afghanistan.   There is also information that at least part of the government of Pakistan has been aiding the Taliban.  Is any of this really new?  Has anything changed since December?  I think the answer to both questions is “no.”

The most interesting information to emerge is from the Guardian.

The shadow of Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, hangs heavily over the US-led coalition’s campaign in Afghanistan. Again and again, the secret watchers of American military intelligence, whose furtive and often confused attempts at information gathering are collated in the 2004-2009 war logs, glimpse the hidden hand of the al-Qaida chief or catch a tantalising whiff of his whereabouts, only for the trail to turn cold and peter out.

Reportedly a high-level meeting was held in Quetta, Pakistan, where six suicide bombers were given orders for an operation in northern Afghanistan. Two persons have been given targets in Kunduz, two in Mazar-e-Sharif and the last two are said to come to Faryab,” the report claimed.It went on: “These meetings take place once every month, and there are usually about 20 people present. The place for the meeting alternates between Quetta and villages (NFDG) [no further details given] on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“The top four people in these meetings are Mullah Omar [the Taliban leader], Osama bin Laden, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah [Baradar]. “The six foreigners who have been given the assignment have each been given $50,000 [£32,000] to conduct the attacks, and they have been promised that their families will be taken care of.”

So are we really fighting in Afghanistan and trying to navigate a very complicated cultural and political situation because George W. Bush lost interest in pursuring bin Laden?  We now seem to be the outsiders trying to impose a solution instead of fighting terrorism.  I keep waiting for someone to talk about winning hearts and minds like in Vietnam.  Reports are that many Afghani’s don’t like either President Karzai or the American troops.

John Nichols writes in the Nation

The echo you are hearing is that of the Nixon administration responding to the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Indeed, as Dan Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers says: “I’m very impressed by the release. It is the first release in 39 years or 40 years, since I first gave the Pentagon papers to the Senate, of the scale of the Pentagon papers.”

 We can only hope that Obama and his aides have read enough history to recognize that Nixon’s over-reaction to the Pentagon Papers began a process that would lead — at least in part — to a House Judiciary Committee vote to impeach him and the only presidential resignation in the country’s history.

I’ve always thought that the President’s strategy was to increase the troops, tough it out until 2011, and then start leaving.  I hope that these revelations push him harder in that direction.

And I am very proud of the reaction of Senator John Kerry.  John Nichols again

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, did a whole lot better than the administration.

 “However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Kerry, whose discomfort with the Afghanistan operation has grown increasingly evident. “Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”

 Kerry should hold hearings with regard to the Afghanistan War Logs.

As a bonus, here is a short history of the War in Afghanistan from the New York Times.

The Conflict in Afghanistan

  • 1979 The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. Mujahedeen — Islamic fighters — from across the globe, including Osama bin Laden, come to fight Soviet forces.
  • 1989 Last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan.
  • 1996 The Taliban take control of Afghanistan, imposing fundamentalist Islamic law. Osama bin Laden takes refuge in the country.
  • Sept. 2001 After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush gives the Taliban an ultimatum to hand over bin Laden; the Taliban refuse, and in October the U.S. leads a campaign that drives the Taliban out of major Afghan cities by the end of the year.
  • 2002 Hamid Karzai becomes interim president of Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to wage guerrilla warfare near the border with Pakistan.
  • 2004 New constitution is ratified, making Afghanistan an Islamic state with a strong president. Later, Mr. Karzai wins the country’s first presidential election.
  • Feb. 2009 President Obama orders 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
  • Aug. 2009 President Karzai wins re-election in a vote marred by fraud.
  • Dec. 2009 President Obama issues orders to send 30,000 troops in 2010, bringing the total American force to about 100,000.
  • Bayh Quits and will there be a Senator Mellencamp?

     Evan Bayh decided to call it quits in a decidedly weird and sudden way yesterday.  According to the New York Times Caucus Blog

    The decision, which he announced at an afternoon press conference, came as a surprise to Democrats in his state who had already started working on his campaign.

    In his remarks, Mr. Bayh expressed frustration at what he described as an increasingly polarized atmosphere in Washington that made it impossible to get anything done.

    “For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should,” he said. “There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem solving.”

    And while he complimented his colleagues in the Senate, he said that “the institution is in need of significant reform.”

    He cited two recent examples of the Senate not stepping up – the voting down of a bipartisan commission to deal with the federal deficit and the stymied attempt to craft a jobs bill.

    And so the Democrats will lose the Senator “least likely to vote with his party this Congress.”

    The scramble to replace him on the ballot in the fall is on.  The deadline for filing to get on the ballot was today.  (Nice timing there Senator!) and no Democrat qualified.  I don’t know Indiana politics, but it seems unlikely that the primary date and thus the filing date will be moved.  So the state Dems say they can choose their candidate. 

    Again, the Times

    Now Democrats say they can select their choice, and attention has focused mainly on Representative Brad Ellsworth, a Democrat from Evansville, as well as Representative Baron Hill, Democrat of Seymour. Party officials say they are also exploring other, less well-known names.

    One problem is that both Mr. Ellsworth and Mr. Hill plan to qualify this week as House candidates. Republicans say it will not be proper if they do so only to later pull out to run for Senate, leaving Republicans with their House and Senate candidates while Democrats play political musical chairs.

    To Republicans, that approach is not quite fair and means that Democrats could actually gain some advantage by Mr. Bayh pulling out just before the deadline for qualifying and allowing Democrats to avoid a Senate primary.

    Got that?  If the Republicans are right, maybe Mr. Least Likely to vote with the Dems has actually done something right.

    John Nichols over at the Nation is reporting a rumor that some in Indiana are promoting John Mellencamp for Senate. 

    The guy who put populist politics on the charts with a song title “Pink Houses” John Mellencamp performed at the White House last week, as part of a program titled: “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement.”

    The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame member sang the song “Jim Crow” with veteran folkie Joan Baez — as well as a terrific song version of “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” — on a night that also featured performances by Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, Yolanda Adams, the Five Blind Boys from Alabama and Bob Dylan, among others.

    That was powerful company, but Mellencamp was up to it.

    For the past quarter century, he has been penning and performing smart, often very political songs — focusing on the farm crisis, economic hard times and race relations. He’s been a key organizer of Farm Aid and other fund-raising events for good causes, and he’s been a steady presence on the campaign trail in recent years, appearing at the side of numerous Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama.

    So, could Mellencamp perform in the U.S. Senate?

    Could he be the right replacement for retiring Senator Evan Bayh, D-Indiana?

    Don’t forget that Minnesota just elected Al Franken. 

    Mellencamp certainly has the home-state credibility. Few rockers have been so closely associated with a state as Mellencamp with Indiana.

    Mellencamp has a history of issue-oriented political engagement that is the rival of any of the Democratic politicians who are being considered as possible Bayh replacements.

    And Mellencamp has something else. He has a record of standing up for disenfranchised and disenchanted working-class families in places like his hometown of Seymour, Indiana.

    In other words, he’s worthy of the consideration that has led to talk of a “Draft John Mellencamp” movement. In fact, he might be just enough of an outlier to energize base votes and to make independent voters look again at the Democratic column.

    Could we end up with Senators Franken and Mellencamp? We can dream anyway.

    Protect Choice

    Abortion is legal.  The abortions provided by Dr. George Tiller are not mass murder according to the law no matter what Randall Terry and Bill O’Reilly think.  If you believe that a fetus is a person, then, yes, Dr. Tiller and other physicians who provide abortions are killing.  However if you do not believe that a non-viable fetus is a person, then abortion is not murder.  The reality is that one side will never change the beliefs of the other and the law and the American Constitution protects the right of a woman to make a choice.

    I have been a couselor at a Planned Parenthood and I know that the decision is never an easy one.  I had several young woman decide on adoption, but most decided to terminate their pregnancies.  They used to come with their boyfriends.  They usually told their parents.  These were women who were having first trimester abortions.  I can’t imagine how difficult the decision to have a late term abortion might be.

    John Nichols wrote “A Killing in Kansas”  in the Nation

    Fifteen years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered a “hit list” circulating among militant anti-abortion activists.

    The top target for assassination on the list was Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician whose Women’s Health Care Services clinic in Witchita has been one of only three clinics in the United States that performs late-term abortions in order to end the pregnancies of women who doctors determine would suffer irreparable harm by giving birth.

    The question is what good is a right to something if it is not available.  What does it mean to call a person a murderer over and over for doing something legal?  What does it mean to have had eight abortion providers murdered since 1977?  There are many questions which I am sure I will write about over the days to come.

    Peter Rothberg in his blog Act Now has two important links.  First is the link to clips of Bill O’Reilly.  The second is to Medical Students for Choice.

    Beyond his courage and medical competence Tiller’s loss will be greatly felt becuase there just aren’t that many other peope with the will and wherewithal to do what he did. It would be a fitting memorial to Dr. Tiller, as Friedman suggests, to contribute to Medical Students for Choice, and encourage more doctors with a deep commitment to reproductive rights to become abortion providers.

    Yes, President Obama is right in saying we need to reduce the number of abortions, but we also need to make sure that the right is more than something on paper.

    The Slow Drip of Torture Revelations

    Sometimes it feels like torture.  Everyday it feels as if there are new revelations.  Everyday there is more speculation about why President Obama doesn’t come out and say he will or will not support prosecution of Bush administration officials.  I have said before that I think he is waiting to see what Congress does and what the Justice Department finds in various investigations.  I think he doesn’t want to be seen as too eager and too partisan.  I understand why many are frustrated.  After all, the Republicans brought impeachment procedings and had a multi-year investigation by a special prosecutor about what was essentially a personal crime by President Clinton.  The whole thing sapped energy from things that Clinton could have been doing and I can understand that Obama wants to pass some of his real agenda first.  I want to see criminal prosecutions in the courts, although Judge Jay Bybee is an exception who needs to be impeached.

    John Nichols writing in the Nation says

    And President Obama, who erred on the side of the transparency demanded by the American Civil Liberties Union in its long campaign to obtain the memos, gets points for ordering an end to the use of the torture techniques they outlined and for expressing at least a measure of openness to a “further accounting” and perhaps prosecution of wrongdoers. But Obama’s fretting about inquiries “getting so politicized” and suggesting a preference for shifting responsibility to a bipartisan independent commission are unsettling.As a former constitutional law lecturer, Obama should have a firmer grasp of the point of executive accountability. It is not merely to “lay blame,” as he suggests; it is to set boundaries on presidential behavior and to clarify where wrongdoing will be challenged. Presidents, even those who profess honorable intentions, do not get to write their own rules. Congress must set and enforce those boundaries. When Obama suggested that CIA personnel who acted on the legal advice of the Bush administration would not face “retribution,” Illinois’s Jan Schakowsky, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, offered the only appropriate response. “I don’t want to compare this to Nazi Germany, but we’ve come to almost ridicule the notion that when horrific acts have been committed that people can use the excuse that, Well, I was just following orders,” explained Schakowsky, who has instructed aides to prepare for a torture inquiry. “There should be an open mind of what to do with information that we get from thorough investigations,” she added.

    There must also be a proper framework for investigations. Gathering information for the purpose of creating a permanent record is only slightly superior to Obama’s banalities about wanting to “move forward.” Truth commissions that grant immunity to wrongdoers and bipartisan commissions that negotiate their way to redacted reports do not check and balance the executive branch any more than “warnings” punish speeding motorists.

    Impeaching Bybee, as recommended by Nadler and Common Cause, would send the right signal. But it cannot be the only one. The House Judiciary Committee should examine all available avenues for achieving accountability–including the prospect of formal action against former officeholders, up to and including the sort of impeachments imagined by Mansfield and his compatriots in 1974. And Nadler and Feingold should use their subcommittees to begin outlining statutory constraints on the executive branch. The point, again, is not merely to address Bush/Cheney-era crimes but also to dial down the imperial presidency that has evolved under the unwatchful eye of successive Congresses.

    “Congress…must be vigilant to the perils of the subversive notion that any public official, the president or a policeman, possesses a kind of inherent power to set the Constitution aside whenever he thinks the public interest or ‘national security’ warrants it. That notion is the essential postulate of tyranny,” California Congressman Don Edwards warned thirty-five years ago, when too many of his colleagues thought Nixon’s resignation had caged the beast of executive aggrandizement. That vigilance, too long delayed, is the essential duty of every member of Congress who swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

    Here’s most recent example of the drip of revelations.  It appears that former Secretary of State Condi Rice might also be implicated in a conspiracy.  Keith Olbermann ran this tape  of her trying to defend torture.

    So I say the Congress should begin impeaching Jay Bybee and we should let the relevatiions continue.  I’m not sure when enough will be enough to begin criminal proceedings but I’m sure Eric Holder will figure that out.