Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gitmo, or why we need more liberals

I'm not entirely sure how to feel about Congress evidently killing the Obama Administration's plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. I kind of feel that this is sort of a second-tier issue, to be honest. Opposition to the prison was always fundamentally based on an opposition to what was done there, and closing it was always put in terms of the symbolic damage it did to our national reputation. That reputation has rebounded significantly during the Obama era, and since torture is once again gone from the institution, the importance of closing the institution is a bit diminished to me. I would much rather have preferred that the Administration spend its political capital on dismantling Bush's shadow justice system (and not pursued its dubious assassinations policy), but the fact is that Obama spent a lot more political capital on this than I figured he would. I don't see it as being his fault.

What bothers me is that, by and large, there are few people on the left willing to speak out against the War On Terror, and that people who speak out generally have little grasp of how to pitch an argument to the public. The general responses to the right's objections to civilian trials for terrorists and Miranda warnings were to point out hypocrisy on the part of Republicans, not to accuse Republicans of cynical distortions to scare people out of supporting the Administration's terror policies. This failure merely forces the Administration to move ever-further to the right on these issues, as there is little rhetorical ground to take a more little-l liberal approach. I find the entire thing more than a little frustrating myself. What it boils down to is that there just aren't enough people in the Democratic Party who are animated by anything close to liberal ideas, like the preservation of civil liberties. True liberals would find much of this stuff intolerable, and would have little problem saying so. You can't tell me that someone like George McGovern would have just gone along with the assassination policy back in the day? It would have driven him crazy, and he wouldn't have been able to stay away from taking his problems to the public. I wish we had more like him around these days.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.