Bring facts or go away Cheney! Both of you.

Watching MSNBC following the two speeches from President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney I saw Chuck Todd interview Liz Cheney. Chuck first asked her what she liked about what Obama had to say. I thought this was an excellent question because her answer to it would immediately expose her degree of partisan bias. Good job Chuck! She answered that she approved of the President saying that keeping America safe was the first thing he thought of in the morning and the last thing he thought of at night, which she says shows he’s taking the issue as seriously as he should. OK, good for her for coming up with something nice to say about the other side, but what a telling thing for her to pick. That statement by Obama was just about the only one in his whole speech that could could be used the increase America’s fear level. That’s what I am most weary about from the Cheney camp. They just seem so determined to make us fearful for our safety.

She went on to challenge the President’s assertion that terror suspects could be incarcerated and tried in existing prisons and courts within the U.S.. She claims that there are serious problems with trying terror suspects in Federal courts and suggested a book written by a prosecutor experienced in the problems. She asserted that such procecutions would never work because of these issues, whatever they are, and that Obama was naively not even aware of these issues. Now, I don’t doubt that there are problems which may require us to change some of the rules of evidence or whatnot in order to protect classified information in these cases, but my first reaction was that we have successfully prosecuted terrorists in our federal courts in the past. Why can’t we do it again? Also, contrary to Liz’s assertion Obama did mention those same problems in his speech.

I like that Obama seems to be committed to addressing whatever issues that come up in a way that respects our own laws and founding documents. I think this is really the difference between the two camps. Cheney is really defending the position that we can’t afford our high falutin’ morals if we’re going to have safety and I for one reject that position completely.

Dick Cheney himself just continues to argue with categorizing waterboarding as torture. OK, if that’s the case, what do you have to say to the Japanese officer we tried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for waterboarding American POWs after WWII Dick? His fear and knee-jerk reaction towards totalitarianism based on that fear are no credit to him. They are, in fact, quite primitive and disgusting.

Dick, your worldview has been rejected by the American people after years of reflection. We’re not naively taking the threat of terrorists too lightly as you believe. We just prefer the rule of law to your totalitarian policies. If I were you I’d start preparing my defense to the charges you are sure to face. You just might have 15 years of hard labor in your future.

In any case, I haven’t heard either Cheney present any facts which support their position and until they do I can’t take their arguments seriously. They continue to trot out the same tired assertions, such as the dandy that waterboarding resulted in intelligence that was used to prevent other attacks on U.S. soil. These assertions have been refuted by the evidence again and again. Unless they can bring something better to the discussion I wish they’d just go away and let us get on with repairing the damage they’ve done.

Missing the point regarding torture

There is currently a hubub in the news about some Bush Justice Department memos that were released recently by the Obama administration. These memos and legal opinions describe the use of torture by U.S. agencies, such as the CIA, in the “War on Terror” under the Bush administration. It’s not a pretty picture. Apparently the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” was more widespread than had previously been reported. Predictably this has resulted in a hue and cry for investigations and prosecutions. Over on Fox News, however, it’s a different story. Go figure. Here’s some video analysis from Fox. Michael Hayden, the ex-head of the CIA, explains the pro-torture position well in this video from Fox News Sunday.
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Ten Commandments at State Capitol

An Oklahoma state legislator has introduced a bill to put a Ten Commandments monument up at the state capitol. You can read Austin Cline’s report here. Seriously, do they even have Civics and U.S. History classes in schools in Oklahoma?! Apparently the proponents of the bill claim that 1) the monument is intended to honor the origin of the rule of law, and 2) has nothing to do with their religious beliefs. Oh yeah, then why honor the Ten Commandmants instead of Hammurabi’s law code, the earliest known formal system of laws? These people are just so full of it. They have no respect whatsoever for their fellow citizens if they don’t believe in the same fairy tales. Come on Oakies, you deserve better government than this. You are quickly becoming a laughingstock of religious intolerance and ignorance!

Comment to the ACLU

I added this comment to the end of a survey I did for the ACLU:

I believe that a primary focus of your organization should be the separation of church and state. Many of the other issues that you address are really just sidelines of that central battle. For example, reproductive rights are only threatened by those who believe that their religion forbids it and furthermore that they have a right to force their views on the rest of us through legislation. Demand to be shown a soul before allowing any laws based on souls to be enacted. Another example, LBGT rights, are only endangered by those acting on their religious beliefs. If those beliefs were kept out of our laws LBGT rights would be a foregone conclusion. I understand that you can’t afford to take an anti-religion stand for fear of endangering progress and alienating supporters but I think that the blame for things like Prop. 8′s passage in California belongs solely to the religious organizations (Saddleback Church, Latter Day Saints, etc.) who financed the lobby for it. When people are preaching hate from the pulpit don’t hold back. Call them out on it. If we, as a society, continue to refrain from criticizing particular religious institutions, even when they are advocating hate, we will soon find ourselves as oppressed by them as the citizens of Afghanistan were/are by the Taliban.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that religion is the root of all evil. Just the most unnecessary and inane kind of evil. The rest of it can be attributed to normal human failings (greed, lust, etc.). On second thought I’m not sure lust should be considered a failing, as long as it doesn’t lead one to disrespecting others.