A couple of years ago, my friend Ginny Welsch ran for US Congress here in the 5th District, which, unlike many bizarrely gerrymandered districts in this state, neatly encompasses Nashville and its near suburbs, and is known as an island of Democratic Party dominance in a sea of rural, redneck Republicanism. Ginny thought she would get a lot of traction with her left-wing challenge to our blue dog Democrat congressman, Jim Cooper, who is widely known as a strong supporter of the Iraq war and the Bush administration, but Ginny couldn’t get no respect. She tried renouncing her Green Party endorsement, she tried pointing out that Cooper’s nominal Republican opponent was a flat-earth type who was way out of the mainstream and couldn’t possibly win a serious three-way race, but nothing seemed to work for her. She got little media coverage and financial support, and precious few votes, considering the growing depth of antiwar sentiment even two years ago. She reported that even the most seemingly liberal people were strongly defensive of Cooper, as a nominal Democrat.
This year, the Green Party’s John Miglietta is preparing to take up the David-and-Goliath task of challenging Jim Cooper, so when I stumbled across the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s page on Cooper, I was delighted to discover a massive cache of pebbles for John’s slingshot.
Here”s the executive summary: out of 65 legislative proposals that the FCNL supports, Cooper has been willing to co-sponsor only three. One of those supports punitive sanctions against Iran. Another proposes measures against illegal immigrants, and is supported by more Republicans than Democrats. I don’t pretend to understand or support everything FCNL does, but overall I think they’re a good standard for the more liberal wing of the Democratic party, and Cooper flunks it big time.
Here’s a partial list of the proposals he doesn’t support:
He doesn’t support habeas corpus for prisoners at Guantanamo.
Not only does he support continuing US aggression in Iraq, he is against insisting on Congressional oversight of the war effort, and wants to give the NSA a pass to go around the FISA courts. Guess he just trusts the Cheny-Bush junta to do the right thing. He’s not willing to allow more Iraqis who have worked for the US to seek asylum in this country. That’s just plain mean. Meaner still, he has refused to support any additional aid for Iraq’s four million refugees, who would not be refugees if the US had not invaded their country. Well, they shouldn’t take it personally. Jim doesn’t want to take better care of formerly interned Japanese-Americans, either. I guess it’s a compassion thing–he doesn’t have any.
He has refused to support legislation that would hold mercenaries (aka “contractors”) to the same standards of conduct expected of American soldiers. Considering how many wrist slaps have been issued for serious crimes, and how some low level soldiers have been severely punished for following the illegal orders of their superiors (who were not held accountable) that’s not even asking much, but hey, it’s something–but Jim ain’t buying it.
He has refused to push for a ban on cluster bomb use in the vicinity of civilians. Hey, with the planet this crowded, civilians are everywhere, and that would practically mean we couldn’t use cluster bombs at all. Can’t have that, now, can we, Jim? Just leave enough o’ them cluster bomblets laying around populated areas, and it’ll thin the population down some–is that it? Can we try it in your neighborhood, Jim?
He has refused to sign on to legislation that would investigate and probably reign in WHINSEC, the US government’s notorious training school for torturers and terrorists. We ain’t even talking banning it, here, just shining a light on it…not for Jimbo. Ignorance is bliss, eh?
He has refused to support the “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007,” which would make “significant changes to provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 by restoring the writ of habeas corpus for individuals held under U.S. jurisdiction, narrowing the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant, preventing the use of evidence gained through torture and coercion, and requiring the U.S. to live up to its Geneva Convention obligations.” Our Congressman, Jim Cooper, has declined to sign on to legislation that requires the US to live up to the Geneva Conventions. Got that? I’m going to get back to it in a minute.
He won’t support legislation to close Guantanamo, a bill that was introduced by Jane Harman, who I have characterized elsewhere in this chronicle as a lapdog of the CIA. The CIA wants to close it, the junta wants to keep it open, and lookie where Jim Cooper stands. What loyalty!
He won’t support legislation that would ban the so-called “outsourcing” of torture. Helping preserve American jobs, Jim? Nor will he act to preserve habeas corpus for American citizens, and he’s not interested in repealing the so-called “Real ID” act. In case you hadn’t heard, “Real ID” is a neocon job that was slipped through without debate a few years ago. It gives states a very expensive unfunded mandate to create a national ID card, and many privacy experts see the data base it is supposed to create as an invitation to snooping and identity theft.
And don’t get me started on his apparent support for an attack on Iran, or his lack of support for strong environmental measures–and that’s “strong” by Congressional standards, not even by the standard of what needs to happen to prevent catastrophe.
Now, about those Geneva Convention violations that our boy Jim supports. The last time a Western democracy suspended habeas corpus and allowed the executive branch to rule without oversight or input from the legislative branch was in 1933 when the Reichstag passed “The Enabling Act” that turned the government over to Cheney and Bush…excuse me, I mean Hitler. Hitler, of course, went on to violate the Geneva Conventions and kill millions of civilians. In part because they abdicated responsibility so early in the history of the Nazi regime, members of the Reichstag were not held responsible for war crimes and tried at Nuremburg.
Here in the US, however, we have a different situation. Congress has, at least technically, retained its power, and has passed legislation to fund US aggression in Iraq, as well as declined to investigate its excesses or whether it was warranted at all. This suggests to me that, unlike members of the Reichstag, members of the US Congress who have been actively complicit in the war effort are culpable in the event of some Nuremburg-type trial convened to punish those responsible for the widespread, unprovoked devastation that has resulted from US aggression in the Middle East. That means you, Jim Cooper, not to mention you, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and Hillary Clinton and all the other Democrats who have failed in their sworn duty to protect the Constitution, uphold international treaties, and enforce the law, even if it means impeaching the President.
As for all the “good Americans” who have kept Jim “War Criminal” Cooper in office with their votes and their blind allegiance to his party label, all I can say is, “Wake up! It’s almost midnight! Do you know where your conscience is?”