Kamiya: The Case for Investigations

I can’t find any particular part of this essay by Gary Kamiya to excerpt — the whole thing is too awesome to lend itself to summarizing: America’s necessary dark night of the soul.

I think Kamiya’s argument is a compelling response to Obama’s “we need to look forward” position. Yes, we have many other crucial matters we need to deal with. Yes, Obama does not have limitless political capital. Yes, there are many powerful people on both sides of the aisle who are implicated in the bad things that happened over the last eight years, and who can be expected to be about as cooperative in the investigation as the Sunni insurgents were in the reconstruction of Iraq.

This investigation will not happen because Obama wants it; he doesn’t want it. It is not in his interest. Neither is it in the interest of the current Democratic leadership in Congress, nor that of congressional Republicans. It will not come from the people represented by the blue line in this recent Pew Research graph, nor from those represented by the red line.

It will come from those of us represented by the avocado green line:


It will not be easy. It will not be pretty. But only once we’ve dragged this sordid, festering truth out into the sunlight will we be able to see it for what it really is, and move on.

9 Responses to “Kamiya: The Case for Investigations”

  1. shcb Says:

    I think this torture thing is starting to get to you, this may be your last chance at “getting” Bush and Bush Derangement Syndrome is in the high fever stage. I really don’t see what these charts, as interesting as they are, has anything to do with the torture debate, except as one small factor in many.

    It is interesting though, everyone will have an opinion of what something like this means of course, so here is mine.

    People have been disenchanted with the job government has been doing for several years, probably always have, always will, and this probably isn’t that unique, bet things always seem more intense when you are in the moment. Bush’s numbers were as low as Truman’s at the end of his presidency, Congress was even lower, no matter if you were talking about two years ago when Republicans were still in charge or when Democrats were in charge, their numbers haven’t gone up. Obama’s numbers are high, but just average for presidents at this point in their term. As an aside Dick Morris had some interesting remarks the other night; he said that while Obama’s numbers are high, when asked questions like “should government run businesses” or “should government’s role be less or more intrusive” people replied against what Obama is doing by a two to one margin. So it seems to me people just plain don’t like what government as a whole is doing so they are revolting to the point of saying they don’t like either side, of course in the next election 98% or so will vote for one side or the other. The remedy of course is to vote in the primaries and change the face of the parties from within, but people won’t be bothered to vote twice so they will just bitch.

  2. CKL Says:

    1) Go avocado!

    2) I don’t feel that, as shcb says, this is a matter of “getting Bush.” Not for me anyway (I get enough as it is, heh heh heh). For me it’s a matter of basic human rights, and I want to see responsible dems ante up for their crimes as much as I do republicans. Names aren’t important here, justice is. Even if there is no punishment whatsoever, I want to know — and the world to know — exactly what was done and by who and how horrible it is. If we allow these people to get away with these things what kind of message does that send to ourselves in the future?

    3) People don’t feel that the government is serving their interests — indeed, it’s probably not. I don’t think this is because people “can’t be bothered to vote twice” so much as they’ve been shown that their individual vote matters very little, and the results it gets aren’t even necessarily what they’d hoped. It’s great in theory to vote independent for a candidate who embodies your ideals, but in reality the only way to keep the guys you dislike out of office is to vote for guys who are popular enough to contend with them (who you happen to dislike slightly less). It’s choosing between the lesser of two evils, and unfortunately it’s become the most successful strategy.

    4) The fact that this is the case indicates a failing electoral system. Popular vote is entirely possible since the invention of the internet, and possibly the only way everyone will feel they’re given an equal voice. Perhaps we should do away with the traditional “branches of government” and enact or revise what happens in America based solely on popular vote. Being able to adjust policy “on the fly” as situations change rather than waiting for out of touch representatives to warp them for their own best interests after frustratingly long periods of deliberation would cut down on a lot of the inefficiency of government itself; it’d also make people feel more empowered, and I think that feeling of empowerment is one of the keys to higher voter turnout.

    5) The problem of poorly approved candidates could be solved by having more informed and better educated voters. Capitalism, and indeed our political system here in the U.S., relies on informed consumers making rational decisions; it has become profitable for corporations and politicians both to keep consumers misinformed and making irrational decisions.

    Final thought: “voting for the lesser of two evils” and “voting against a candidate” are comparable to buying the “better of two bazookas” because your neighbor has one pointed at you, when what you really need is to pay your utility bills).

  3. enkidu Says:

    yes indeed, avocado: the bacon of vegetables

    don’t worry shcb, if we don’t get to the bottom of this dark chapter in America’s history, perhaps Spain or one of our EU allies will attempt to find the truth. You definitely can’t handle the truth (see: almost anything you’ve written here, excepting some avuncular anecdotes and a recipe or two ;-)

    CKL an interesting list. I have some thoughts on item 4.
    Perhaps internet flash mob rule isn’t such a great idea, but it may be better than the system we currently limp along under? How do you apply web2.0 ideas to the Constitution and vice versa. Vote by browser (CLICK HERE! to vote for teh FREEDOM!1!11! Party) doesn’t sound wise to me. Too black box, mb with quantum encryption keys? DNA + retinal scans + qkeys = more trustworthy than a Diebold machine? As long as the counters and servers are as secure or more so… yes? Let’s get to work on it!

    Perhaps the internet does have a new role to play. Team O was incredibly successful with their media and net strategy. Their ideas were generally good too (promising folks the moon is easy, delivering…) Maybe the net does have a role in bringing back civic duty, informed populace, engaged electorate, etc. Maybe wankery in blog comments is part of the picture, or maybe not.

    How do you extract the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff? Having a good bullshit sensor is perhaps the first step, just simple common sense, math, basic logic and reasoning skills. Not endless partisan screeds and skewed ‘information’ from clearly biased sources. Journalism is about “the facts, just the facts”

    I hope there is a new middle way, a more progressive liberal enlightened way, in politics and American civic life, but judging by the wwnj response to Obama’s election, we are a long way from that now. Conservatism does have some ideas to bring to the table (some good some bad), but the Republican party has come unmoored from reality and is sailing full tilt for the edge of their very flat very small earth. Good riddance.

  4. NorthernLite Says:

    And up here north of the border we’ve just crowned a new leader of the Liberal Party this past weekend, taking us one step closer to ridding ourselves of George Bush Lite and bringing in a government that’s more in line with the new US admin.

    Between that and the Toronto Blue Jays, 2009 ain’t lookin’ too bad!

  5. Steve Says:

    Kamiya is one of my favorite writers. I think this is exactly right. He does a good job of putting himself in others’ shoes.

    I don’t think there is any issue more important than this for the health of the nation. Sure, there are more pressing issues to me -personally- (like doing a good job at work), but the nation as a whole rests on the constitution and our body of laws.

    We must investigate.

  6. CKL Says:

    enkidu — easy solution to popular voting online; give everyone an “internet license.” Or at least those who want to vote on real-wold issues.

    Now, don’t get me wrong — I hate that idea in some respects. Obviously a lot of things would have to change for people to be willing to give up their online anonymity. If popular vote were to decide everything (such as the penalties for pirating music) something tells me such a truly peer-controlled system would be much more conducive to people wanting to be part of it.

    It all boils down to this: so long as you treat everyone equally, most people won’t have a problem. Social strife comes when you begin to introduce the idea that some have more power than others (and, indeed, more power OVER others) and that there are barriers in place which perpetuate such powers among those who have them.

    I’m not saying it’s a perfect idea. Eventually all forms of organization develop flaws, and this is why there needs to be considerations in place which prevent “bit decay” and corruption (such as the right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution, among other freedoms which have been/are being infringed upon).

    Maybe it’s time we endow our species with the opportunity to develop itself through cooperation toward a shared vision (improvement and perpetuation of the human race) rather than promote conflict by limiting the free exchange of ideas. Look at the world we live in now; we’re killing ourselves by obliterating our environment and pointlessly struggling for temporary power. Our day-to-day lives are spent trying to eek out a tolerable existence in service to others whose only goal is to stay fat and happy.

    The message is clear: In order for us to survive perpetually we need to work together as a species. The simplest route to this, IMO, is allowing every person to communicate with every other person.

  7. shcb Says:

    Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding on what is for dinner.

  8. CKL Says:

    shcb — exactly. The REAL question is what’s for future dinners.

  9. shcb Says:

    Democracy in the form you propose is just anarchy, actually it is probably worse than anarchy, certainly worse than what we have now.

    Consider this, just go back to the original intent of the constitution where states have more power, you don’t have to change the constitution, just change the way government is funded. For this discussion I will over simplify, the feds take care of defense and interstate commerce and the states take care of everything else, most of our taxes are collected by the states and a small amount goes to the fed. Again, oversimplified, your vote is now 50 times more powerful. What do you think?

    (sorry to use oversimplify twice, that was for Enky, you are smart enough to get it the first time)

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