Loser McCain's Torture Amendment Gutted

George 'I am the Law' Bush gutted McCain's torture amendment on Friday.  Read Bush's signing statement, which is literally chilling.

The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks. Further, in light of the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2001 in Alexander v. Sandoval, and noting that the text and structure of Title X do not create a private right of action to enforce Title X, the executive branch shall construe Title X not to create a private right of action.

In other words, I'm the President, and you can't enforce jack.  And McCain got snowed.

I've heard something else about McCain recently, having to do with his personality.  Nancy Scola, a friend who I admire very much, says that McCain stands on principle more than most, and that as a progressive she admires that.  I do too.  But she also points out that he would be a horrible President.  

I think the problem with McCain is that he's a loser.  I've been told that he's got an independent streak, and he's stubborn as a bull - a navy officer through and through.  The problem is that he allow his hatred of lawyers to dominate his work, and so he won't negotiate on the details of political and legal issues.  That's why he keeps getting destroyed on his reform agenda.  Try to control campaign finance?  Fine, we'll just go around you with 501c6's.  Want to end torture?  Fine, we'll make your amendment unenforceable and meaningless.

And McCain loses patience, declares victory, and goes home.  Like all Republicans who aren't tied into the extremist machine, McCain is a loser.  He doesn't win.  He doesn't get his work done.  It might be arrogance, laziness, short-sightedness, whatever.  But he loses, again and again and again.

Tags: John McCain, Senate 2006 (all tags)



mccain and the GOP ecosystem
McCain is a professional contrarian. His position in the GOP ecosystem is to say contrarian things. It's a system of mutual advantage: while McCain gets a personal feeling of vindication (or whatever he does it for), the GOP gets an image of tolerance and diversity. Describing McCain as a "professional loser" seems very insightful.

If the GOP is going to change, it's not going to be because of McCain -- it will be when the "mainstream" GOP changes its ways.

I will also say that McCain does strike me as a bit of a loose cannon. I don't think he has a coherent approach to politics. Which, again, helps him maintain his place in the system.

by sdedeo 2006-01-03 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: mccain and the GOP ecosystem
That's an excellent point.  I'll have to elaborate on that.  Wow.
by Matt Stoller 2006-01-03 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: mccain and the GOP ecosystem
Gets to the whole 'political theater' angle.
by Matt Stoller 2006-01-03 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: mccain and the GOP ecosystem
If I recall correctly, Newt Gingrich brought political theatre into it all with Monica Lewinsky.

I guess perhaps, your perspective is that you should take action against the person who is trying to defeat torture in the United States.

Not many people know that Gingrich spent alot of time reviewing old movies of Hitler. He really does get the grassroots movement better than anyone, he helped the GOP to go in this direction.

I am a member of Moveon because I don't like theatre. I like simple, every day action like sidewalks and jogging trails. And drug bills that work, and boring old "peace" instead of weird "pre-emptive self defense" wars on innocent countries.

Tell me truthfully. IF Moveon.org were to take up a kitty against McCain, how many members do you think would support it?

Thought so.  Whats next, stoller?

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: mccain and the GOP ecosystem
There's a great (short!) book by Cass Sunstein called "why democracies need dissent", which in part covers (and tries to classify) the different types of dissenters in an organization.

I'm pretty sure McCain is part of the theater; I think it's clear that the establishment accepts McCain and takes advantage of him (though on the other hand, McCain himself isn't I think aware of the nature of his role.)

BTW, another interesting article on McCain is in David Foster Wallace's new book of essays (Consider the Lobster) -- DFW covered McCain's primary challenge in 2000 for Rolling Stone, and while it's rather fluffy and DFW definitely missed the "real story" of the 2000 GOP, it has some interesting material on how McCain was "handled" by his advisors.

by sdedeo 2006-01-03 08:36AM | 0 recs
More impeachment fodder
Bush is consistent. Congress can pass laws but they don't apply to him. When will true Republicans turn on him like they turned on Nixon? I'm sure they just love their "leader" spitting in their faces.
by antiHyde 2006-01-03 07:18AM | 0 recs
Beyond jaded!
McCain may be the ONLY Senator in either party who combines a shred of integrity with the balls to, on occassion, actually and bluntly speak his mind. And for that, you trash and villify him?  Standing on principle is what ALL elected officials should be expected to do rather than cutting absurdly sleazy deals, e.g., Hawaii's quid pro quo with Alaska.  Besides, anyone who holds lawyers in contempt, views the profession as inherently dishonest and the system as fatally flawed can't be all bad. (FYI: Im a long time LAWYER).        
by NYCRealist 2006-01-03 07:34AM | 0 recs
Man, it's been such a hard day back at work that I REALLY needed that laugh.  Much appreciated.

Do some homework about what he says vs. what he votes on and campaigns for.  You may find your eyelids hurting from being opened so wide.

by Sam Loomis 2006-01-03 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks!
ah. the guy who pries the eyelids open. thats who you are.  When you're done laughing,  I think maybe    you should read Thomas Mann's letter to the University pre World War II.

If An old yellow dog was opposing torture, I would support him.

I find it particularly interesting that Stoller here is playing up something George W. Bush did, and you are going along with it.

Bush hasn't defeated anyone. Stoller is wrong.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: System fattaly flawed
If by that you mean American doesn't work, well, I can't agree, given the options.
by David in Burbank 2006-01-03 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Beyond jaded!
I'm with NYC Realist on this one !  McCain is the best; I care not which party he might run for to be President.  He has all the qualities needed. And then some.  A 'loser'?? Not by me.
-- Like to know who the dickens would satisfy if not this guy.
by howardb 2006-01-03 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Beyond jaded!
Hyperbole aside, NYCrealist does have a point. I think many of the things McCain is "famous" for (other than getting screwed by Bush/Rove in 2000) are things that can well be described as McCain standing on personal principle in a rather unusual (for politicians) way.

That said, McCain deserves no praise for it. He makes no effort to see the connections between his little and -- as Stoller points out -- meaningless "stands" and the party he's aligned with.

After helping the gang gather rocks, he makes a little speech about how they shouldn't use them to break windows. But don't expect him to succeed. Or leave the gang.

by sdedeo 2006-01-03 02:14PM | 0 recs
Executive Power Grab
Somewhere in all the Alito news I recall reading that Alito had recommended that presidents make statements about their intent when signing bills into law.  Up till now, the judiciary has only been able to refer to legislative intent when interpreting law.  Presidential signings are usually photo ops, political events where the president says little more than congratulations, and unless the legislation is vetoed, the president is a mere functionary, at least in legal terms.  Judges interpreting the law have traditionally deferred to Congress's intent, unless there are constitutional issues.  That has been our tradition, and presidents have left it that way, usually saying little about what their own intent is.

This Bush statement strikes me as an important news.  It seems to be a White House effort to usurp the role of Congress in establishing the intent of the legislation that has been passed and signed into law.  

It remains a question as to how the judiciary will interpret intent in the future -- will it defer to Congress as it has traditionally, or if presidents begin issuing their own statements, will judges defer to presidential intent instead?  Will there be a battle among judges in deciding which branch of government is primarily responsible for how a law is interpreted.

It seems clear to me that the Bush administration, and judges like Alito, would like to see the executive have more power in influencing judicial interpretation.  The Bush statement about the torture amendment is perhaps the first shot fired in what could be a long war over who gets to say what our laws mean.

by JJF 2006-01-03 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Executive Power Grab
the formal statement has its virtues though--it cuts the issue clearly, and forces Congress to capitulate or confront it.

In principle, then congress can be held accountable.

those statements of intent are actually quite functional from a standpoint judging democratic representation and accountability.

by plunkitt 2006-01-03 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Executive Power Grab
How exactly is Congress supposed to confront it?  By passing another law that the President can then veto or sign with another statement saying he'll ignore it?

This statement is useless from any point of view except political -- it asserts the Executive's primacy over the other two branches -- an atextual, unAmerican doctrine.

Also, last time I checked, the Executive doesn't interpret the law.  The Judicial Branch interprets the law.  Bush doesn't get to decide which laws cover him and which don't.

by paperwight 2006-01-03 04:23PM | 0 recs
REPUBLICAN McCain in a nutshell
Andrew Sullivan was on Tweety's weekend show and captured the primal essence of REPUBLICAN John McCain in one long sentence:

"He both endorsed an anti-gay marraige constitutional amendment in Arizona, which is a big deal, but secondly he recently said when asked to name one of his heroes, he said: 'Charles Darwin'".

There you go.  REPUBLICAN John McCain - more flip flops than you'd find in an International House of Pancakes.  That dude just recently said he thinks children should decide whether or not they get taught Intelligent Design.  I guess he doesn't think too highly of his heroes.  Or, in reality, he just likes to have it both ways because he knows that your liberal friends don't pay all that much attention to him and they think he's just swell.

by Sam Loomis 2006-01-03 08:31AM | 0 recs
I agree, Sam
I don't know why progressives have this fatal attraction to John McCain. McCain is not a progressive. He is a big-mouthed, cowardly conservative Republican who facilitated the selection and re-selection of George W. Bush.

The media makeover of John McCain as some straight-talking, principled, centrist maverick willing to take on his party is a sham and a joke. He's a conservative Republican politician doing what he thinks he needs to do to get inside the White House.

Yet, many progressives readily cuddle-up to a man who "described himself as a Barry Goldwater Republican who revere[s] Ronald Reagan and his stand of limited government." So, how do McCain-lovin' progressives reconcile this man's conservative principles with our progressive values and credo which, in a nutshell, says that we believe that a strong government uses the common wealth for the common good so that each of us can pursue our own personal goals? I can't explain it.

Progressives can well to avoid the seductive allure of McCain's media persona by applying the Mexican proverb "Dime con quien andos y te digo quien eres." (Translation: "Tell me who you walk with, and I'll tell you who you are.")

Consider the anti-progressive agenda of this illusionary temptress:

    He supports the teaching of ugga-booga science (aka creationism or stupid design) along with evolution in public school biology classes,

    He voted against measures to increase the minimum wage, against a woman's right to choose, and for the Bush agenda 91 percent of the time in 2003!

    He fought to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in his home state.

    He voted against a bill declaring a federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    He voted to cut off federal assistance to public schools that prohibit prayer in schools.

    He voted to strike provisions of the Racial Justice Act that would prohibit the death sentence in state and federal cases if a defendent could prove with statistical or other evidence that the race of the victim played a role in sentencing.

    He voted against a 1996 bill to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    He voted for articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton for getting a goddamn blowjob in the White House!

    He fell in line with other conservative Repiglicans to support Bush's right-wing nominees to the federal appeals court.

    He supports the Bush Crime Family's illegal, murderous invasion and occupation of Iraq.

And so on.

So, what I want to know is when will progressives stop pandering to an out-of-the-mainstream, anti-progressive Republican, and start promoting authentic, principled progressives?

by fafnir 2006-01-03 10:03AM | 0 recs
Did he vote against MLK day?
If true, that cocksucker!  What a fucking scumbag.

I say this as the Hotline Oncall stie reports he will be going back to South Carolina on MLK day to give a speech there.  Wonder what he'll praise the good Doctor about?

I'm trying to think of a word to describe his shify positions, but flip-flopper isn't just it.  That one got old with Kerry.  Hmmmmmm....

by Sam Loomis 2006-01-03 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Did he vote against MLK day?
tone it down a smidge...
by Matt Stoller 2006-01-03 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Did he vote against MLK day?
Sorry.  Something about that republican just gets my blood pressure up, but I won't let my anger get the best of me.
by Sam Loomis 2006-01-03 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Did he vote against MLK day?
Yep: "Having, as a member of the House, initially opposed the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday, McCain later offered a mea culpa, did a180-degree turn on the issue and lobbied Arizona legislators to pass the holiday when it was up for a state vote." - Jake Tapper, Salon.com, April 18, 2000

McCain was one of 90 representatives who voted against the MLK national holiday.

by fafnir 2006-01-03 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: REPUBLICAN McCain in a nutshell
What's the phrase " your liberal friends" brought up for?? I'm not liberal in politics ( or conservative); perhaps rational, like McCain.
I'll have to check to see if those are accurate comments you put up that he's supposed to have said. And what is so wrong with his endorsement in in Arizona?  And for Darwin for being One of his many heroes ?
  BTW, did you know that 'reading' was a liberal idea when it came down, along with the idea of women voting being a liberal idea? And 'civil rights' were thought to be very liberal at the time. Imagine.
by howardb 2006-01-03 10:12AM | 0 recs
no worries
Believe me, if I wanted to insult "liberals" it would have been very clear in my comment.  Don't be so such a sensitive liberal....

Seriously though, just from talking to family members and other like-minded folks the last year or so, it occurred to me that most of them would vote for REPUBLICAN John McCain if given a choice between him and even Hillary Clinton.  I didn't really understand this, and am still trying to, so I turned inwards about my own non-hostile feelings towards the senator.  I found out a few months back that I felt pretty good about him.  He didn't seem like a wingnut, and the press loves to portray him as sticking pins & needles in Bush, so that's a plus.  So, I realized I liked the guy somewhat.

Then, my next step was to actually do some surface research on his votes, beliefs, actual behaviors/statements that don't include his TV appearances.  And Ho-ly shit, did I see a totally different sack of shit.  All politicians are two-faced to some degree, but this guy wasn't EVEN REMOTELY like his media persona lays him out to be.  Not at all like he presents himself.  So, it is my mission now to educate all of my liberal friends and family that this guy, despite his "maverick" persona is actually a REPUBLICAN.  And if you are a REPUBLICAN in 2006, then that means you are lock-step with the Worst Administration Ever and you have only pummelling intentions for liberals and progressives.  You are the enemy.

As for my quote, look it up.  I replayed it on my cool-assed DVR while I typed to assure accuracy.  And the thing wrong with his endorsement of the Arizona amendment is that it makes a law to DENY rights, not expand them, and that's not what I'm about.  As far as his Darwin statement, he's just a panderer.  But also a brazen one because of his recent floundering on the ID issue and fundraising meetings with Falwell and other wingnuts as also reported by Tweety.

by Sam Loomis 2006-01-03 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm sorry
dude, yes. I am righteous. be excellent to each other.  Party on:

  1. Social Security Ripoff
  2. Katrina whitewashing
  3. Coverup, Plamegate
  4. Torture (work in progress)
by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm sorry
did you forget about social security reform?  The Patriot act non-renewal?
by Valatan 2006-01-03 08:48AM | 0 recs
Principled my ass he is!!
The Dems are absolutely brain-damaged if we don't rip McCain from one end to other for being an UNPRINCIPLED man.

After the bullshit the Bushies turned on him in the 2000 South Carolina, McCain should have demanded a goddamned pistol duel.

Instead, he spent the last three elections cycles slather Bush's teat with a baby's love for its mother!

To hell with McCain.  John McCain is the ugliest fraud ever perpetuated in American politics.  

Yes, worse than Ross Perot at the peak of his support.  Perot had an excuse -- he's batshit crazy!

What's McCain's excuse?

He's a pathetic old man who thinks selling out to this bunch of jokers is his only ticket to the Presidency.

How principled is that?

by jcjcjc 2006-01-03 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Principled my ass he is!!
its about advertising. Thats why this post is written by a guy who does product placements in his hollywood scripts. the whole battle of good vs. evil sells more advertisements.

Do this instead:

Write McCain and tell him Bush is thumbing his nose at him, and see what he says. Thats my perspective.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm sorry

Bush dropped to 34% approval rating, the lowest approval for any American president since Richard Nixon at the time of his impeachment.

The issues listed above are counted as defeating an agenda - however, to add to the list - please note that Bush had to leave the country and wander around while all of his friends lived down their radioactive half life for three weeks,  and he tried to get out of a press conference and pulled on locked doors like an arse.

"Most Americans Don't think that Bush was directly involved."

Guess the 34% approval rating was just because they were mad at Bush for invading an innocent country.

Friend, Executive Authority is exercised in the halls of power. Bush has become as radioactive as Tom Delay.

And you know the best part of your ridiculous counter to my post here? You say this is about executive authority, then you are saying that Katrina was about incompetence and not the law -

Katrina is not about legislative issues. Katrina was Bush in grand style, Arabian horse farmers standing there wringing there hands and wondering what to do, to lead the federal government. Dead soulless stares aka  "my pet goat" - while Bush was dining with business peeps in San Diego the people were dying.

Once they start, they never stop. Torture is part of their policy. Dick Cheney caved on this item and the senate passed the bill and now the President is saying he won't go along.

Well, someone should tell McCain this instead of us just beefing about it + see what John says.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Beyond jaded!
McCain doesn't get his ticket punched from me. The guy needs to stand up and deliver.

That said, as a senator, he's doing ok. McCain feingold passed, it helped alot.

Anyone remember 2000?  The dude was running on campaign finance reform. I wonder sometimes if he threw in the towel. As much as I disagree with stoller in theory in practice he's actually right. McCain lost big time. Will he lose again?


by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 01:42PM | 0 recs
McCann is not a loser.
I disagree with the conclusion.  Whether or not the President enforces the anti-torture provisions, this amendment is seen as the will of the American people as it was voted overwhelmingly by the Senate.  McCain made Bush and Cheney lose in public, a rare event.  

McCain has become a shrewd politician who knows how to pick his battles and when to follow the party line.  To conclude else wise is significantly underestimating him/ He will be a formidable candidate if nominated by the Republicans.

The lesson here is that the Democrats can easily find other issues where there is clear consensus with Americans and write legislations or resolutions supporting their position.  What about spying on Americans for instance?  If it is proposed law that the Republican leadership with not debate or introduce, they can filibuster.  Why let McCain and Lindsey Graham get the top reviews for 2005?

by edonyoung 2006-01-03 04:23PM | 0 recs
How to Move on With Style
Here is a primer on what you can do to keep the fight going.. first, you might want to read the actual McCain Amendment and then, read the response by McCain when Bush said he would sign the bill.

  1. Call or write Sen. John McCain and press him for a statement regarding the white house position to ignore his amendment.

  2. Email straight talk America, McCain's organization - the email address is: info@straighttalkamerica.com

  3. Contact your own representative or senator.

Note - the text of the McCain Amendment states:

(a) IN GENERAL.--No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Please note how sharply this contrasts to the President's statement (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051230-8.html)

noting that section 1005 does not confer any constitutional right upon an alien detained abroad as an enemy combatant, the executive branch shall construe section 1005 to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action ..

Good luck.


by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 05:13PM | 0 recs


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