Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Obama’s Attempts at a “New Governing Coalition” Could Sew Seeds of its Own Demise

Columnist E. J. Dionne (whom I have long admired) outlines what he calls the “Obama Center-Left Two-Step.”  It’s worth reading.  Obama is attempting (and apparently succeeding) at isolating the far right and creating a new governing establishment that includes moderate-conservatives, centrists, and liberals/progressives.  But his way of doing this seems keep progressives permanently unhappy–and it depends on a tough foreign policy that, like the liberal establishment of JFK and LBJ, contains the seeds of its own destruction.  It is a revival of “cold war liberalism” for a new era. 

As Dionne points out, even if Obama is successful, this vision is BOTH hopeful and worrying.

P.S.: Of course, to hear most conservatives talk, liberals have actually run most everything all along despite (so the right claims) the fact that this is a “center-right nation” (extensive polling to the contrary) and the fact that from January 2001 to January 2007 far right Republicans controlled all three branches of the U.S. government.  The right still controls most of the mainstream media while still talking as if the media has a liberal bias– a bias last seen about 1984.


May 25, 2009 Posted by | U.S. politics | 3 Comments

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) Rejects Military Commissions & Indefinite Detentions

In a letter to Pres. Obama, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed support for the closing of the Gitmo gulag, and appreciation for the Obama administration’s continued rejection of torture and the many Bush admin. erosions of the rule of law.  However, Feingold rejected the use of even modified military commissions (Feingold and Obama both voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006) and promised senate judiciary hearings as to whether the Obama modifications brought these tribunals within the rule of law. (Feingold sees no reason why normal federal courts or military courts cannot try all the detainees or terrorism suspects.  Neither do I.)

Feingold also challenges the Obama administration’s claim that a few Gitmo detainees cannot be tried or released.  Feingold alleges that the very concept of indefinite detention (or preventive detention) without trial is “almost certainly unconstitutional.”  I agree. 

I’m glad to see the Congress (at least in the form of Sen. Feingold) reassert itself as a separate and equal part of government.  And the only cure for the Obama administration’s move toward the right (in the face of pressure from Cheney and co.) is to give pressure from the left.  But  this still falls short of the need for the D.o.J. appointing a special prosecutor to investigate and try all involved in Bush-era war crimes (or any war crimes since the change of administrations).

May 25, 2009 Posted by | civil liberties, criminal justice, human rights., torture | 4 Comments