When big corporations pour tens of millions of dollars into Republican and DLC congressional candidates annually, they are making a purchase. They're buying very specific support for a very specific agenda. Big Oil bribed Dirty Dick Pombo with over $200,000. That's a lot of money for a money grubbing pischer
like Pombo. But in return the Chairman of the Resources Committee, was able to deliver millions of dollars in favors to Big Oil. Just north of Pomboland, John Doolittle is at least as corrupt and Big Oil bought his ass for over $120,000 to get him to vote against proposals o restrict price gouging (among other things on Big Oil's legislative agenda). Both of these crooked politicians also took tremendous bribes from Big Pharma and both expressed their appreciation by supporting the Big Pharma-written Medicare Bill. Do you think senior citizens in Northern California appreciate John Doolittle and Dirty Dick Pombo shoving the doughnut hole down their throats? I just picked these two almost as random. Every single Republican congressman is on the take from Big Business. Big Oil and Big Pharma are two of the worst. Defense contractors have been bribing Republicans and making out like bandits, although several of the bandits are in prison and several more are headed that way. Buck McKeon is the Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee and while he oversaw the rise on student loan rates by 2.4% and cut federal student loan programs by a staggering $12.7 billion, the very people who stand to benefit most from these policies, student loan vendors, were shoving over a quarter million dollars in bribes up McKeon's ass
DLC Democrats are exactly as corrupt as Republicans. They just haven't had as much to offer lately. Just wait. But that's another story, one I follow avidly. But what about non-DLC Democrats, the ones who don't believe in selling votes for legalized (and otherwise) bribes? Well, those are our guys. And when I interview candidates I always ask them if they support substantive campaign finance reform. I had a great talk with Sherrod Brown a few weeks ago on the subject. I was very proud to support a man who could assure me that he never sells his vote. Period. I believed him them. And I believe him now. I donated some money to his campaign and urged my friends and DWT
readers to do likewise.
So, at least on one level, Brown's out-of-character vote for Bush's Torture Bill shouldn't have shocked me. Our donations weren't buying Brown's votes, not even on this crucial a matter. By donating to his campaign-- and encouraging others to do the same-- I was making a gamble, based on a long and solid record, that we would be helping to elected a good Senator who would make the right decisions.
By voting the same way as Mike Dewine, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Felix Macacawitz, Rick Santorum, Denny Hastert, Roy Blunt and Mean Jean Schmidt, Brown made a big mistake. He doesn't think so. Below you'll find Brown's rationale for his vote. Tom Curry's defense of him
at MSNBC fell pretty flat to my ears. "Unlike Mike Dewine," Curry quotes him as saying, "I'm willing to stand up to my party when they're wrong." God... has Lieberman been mentoring him too? Anyway, I want to explain why I'm not writing any more checks to Brown's campaign and why I'm not asking anyone else to do any more than to vote for him on election day-- even if it means holding their noses when they pull the lever, or whatever you do these days with that Diebold crap.
A few days ago I was looking at Brown's 10 point lead over Bush rubber stamp Mike Dewine and I was writing how after January Sherrod and Russ Feingold would be able to help deprogram Obama from all that mentoring Lieberman had filled him with. I imagined the three of them could be a real "can-do" spearhead of progressive values aimed right at the heart of the U.S. Senate.
To tell you the truth, I still hope Congressman Brown wins his Senate race against Dewine. Brown has a better-than-excellent record and he has been an important leader on fair trade and other crucial issues. But, as I explained to his campaign today, we don't compromise on torture. Citing a crass, worthless, sell-out windbag like McCain as an excuse, doesn't make it any more palatable.
Yes, the House passed Bush's torture bill a couple days ago
253-168. And yes, all but 7 Republicans voted for torture. And all the Democrats except for 34 who decided they were Republicans when it comes to torture, voted NO. I basically don't care about fake Democrats who can almost always be counted on to support BushCheney in a pinch-- the John Barrows, Dan Borens, Tim Holdens, Stephanie Herseths, Chet Edwardses, Jim Marshalls, Henry Cuellars, Leonard Boswells, Gene Taylors, Collin Petersons (a fucking co-sponsor
, the only Democrat who was willing to give the crooks a fig leaf of bipartisanship, of the doughnut hole Medicare Bill), Jim Mathesons, Harold Fords, Melissa Beans. I do
, however, care about Sherrod Brown's vote.
I care for a number of reasons. I expect more, a lot more, from a leader like Brown, whose record has been so sterling and inspiring. But he's violated a core value-- Thou Shalt Not Torture Nor Tread On Habeus Corpus
. No exceptions. Is Mike Dewine worse? Don't ask stupid questions. On his best day, Dewine will never be worth a bucket of spit and on his worst day-- 2 days ago-- Brown will always be better than the likes of Mike Dewine. But by voting with the pro-torture camp, basically Republicans and a few right wing or cowardly, unprincipled fake-Democrats, Brown took all the onus off Dewine to join Specter and a few others in the Senate to at least not wreck Habeus Corpus
, an amendment that lost by 2 votes.
pointed out so eloquently today, it's important to remember who decides who is and who isn't liable to be tortured: George W. Bush. Sherrod Brown believes that's ok? I know he doesn't. He serves in the same body with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter who mentioned today that "No law enforcement agency ever came before Congress and said new wiretapping powers were needed to secure the homeland. And yet, this Republican Congress has taken it upon itself to roll over on some of our most basic constitutional rights so that the President can have even more power. Today, Republicans are poised to rubber stamp the Administration's latest efforts to legalize spying on American citizens. The Republican line is, trust us-- we're from the government. But after so many lies and distortions, why should we trust this Administration? It has sullied our reputation around the world as the torch-bearer of democracy by authorizing secret prisons, planting propaganda at home and abroad, and fighting attempts to ban torture. The last thing Congress should be granting it is more unchecked power." Trust George W. Bush?
All Congressman Brown has to do is think about Iraq. Or think about New Orleans.
My Sherrod Brown/Russ Feingold fantasy is rich with irony considering how the two men handled the Bush Torture Bill. I printed out Feingold's Senate speech
and tacked it up on my wall. I hope Congressman Brown reads it. Or maybe he could read what Senator Kerry
says about the bill:
We've got to tell the truth about what's happening right now-- right now-- in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn't limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn't get it. Still. Right now-- today-- they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.
Let me be clear about something-- something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.
The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they've already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.
I contacted Congressman Brown's office early yesterday morning to let them know I was more than disappointed and that I had angry readers sending me e-mails and that I felt that I would probably not be an effective fundraiser for him any longer. They asked me to read a statement on his website:
Yesterday, Congressman Brown voted for a bill that creates a military tribunal to try those enemy combatants that have been held by the government since September 11, 2001.
This compromise is supported by Senator John McCain, a former POW who fought to ensure that this tribunal lives up to our national standards on human rights.
Unlike President Bush's plan, this compromise measure prohibits the degrading treatment of detainees and specifically lists the types of behaviors that are banned in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
The Washington Post wrote about the legislation, "The compromise legislation does not seek to narrow U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners, as Bush had hoped."
Those detained have been held for more than 5 years with no opportunity to prove their guilt or innocence.
It will provide that opportunity, so that those who are innocent can be set free and those who are guilty can be punished.
The bill prohibits the use of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of detainees. Because that evidence is often unreliable, it will not admit evidence obtained through torture.
Detainees will be entitled to Combatant Status Review, where they may challenge their detention within the confines of the military tribunal system.
And the bill will allow combatants to receive an edited version of classified evidence being used to convict them so that they can respond without putting our national security at risk.
Congressman Brown feels it has taken far too long for a legal framework to be developed – for the innocent who must be freed, the guilty that must be punished, and our homeland which must be secured.
Sherrod is a very smart man, smarter than most members of Congress I've talked to. And he isn't a naive man either. And even if he didn't understand, his brilliant wife certainly does. If he honestly thinks Bush's Torture Bill is a good piece of legislation, that's even more problematic than just admitting, at least to himself
, that he voted for it-- alone among progressives-- as a crass political calculation, although who exactly torture appeals to (at least among people who aren't positively wedded
to Bush and Dewine) in beyond me. Does Brown believe in the same Republican pile of crap
that Dewine believes in? I'm certain he doesn't. He has a long record of accomplishment that shows he doesn't. I wonder if he thinks anyone is going to fall for his spin. No one I know is.
Labels: habeas corpus, Sherrod Brown, torture