Conservativism Is Like An Amusement Ride Without The Fun

Country Highway wallpaper

Country Highway wallpaper

This report is from June of this year, Charles Koch launching Wichita campaign about economic freedom, government overreach. A clueless elitist billionaire sounding off about how rough life is for him and  other crony capitalists who count the money they make off the backs of people who do real work and have real ideas. They call themselves libertarians because they’re not honest or honorable enough to call themselves what they really are, proto-fascists. This is another concrete reason why the Kochs and their acolytes are against regulation, manipulation plus greed pays very well,  How Goldman Made $5 Billion By Manipulating Aluminum Inventories (and Copper is Up Next).

Since there does not seem to be any kind of recording thus far ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has some wriggle room to back-track his reported assertion, Report: Scalia Approaches Godwin’s Law on Judicial Activism

Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.

Scalia calls himself an “originalist,” which he defined this weekend as believing that “texts should be read to mean what they were understood to mean when they were adopted.” His pretty well-known frozen-in-amber take on constitutional interpretation pits him against anyone, including his fellow Supreme Court justices, who would read the Constitution in the context of changing times and societies.

Scalia ruled that Congress does not have the right to regulate campaign financing in Citizens United, based on the concept that corporations and corporate-like entities such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads have the same rights as human citizens. That bit of judicial activism cannot be found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. Just a couple good points here,

One, you profess a belief in originalism and for what is contained within the Constitution.  Judicial review is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution and the concept was alien to the common law concept of parliamentary supremacy.  It was only with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Marbury v. Madison, more than a decade after the ratification of the Constitution that judicial review was established as a power of the courts.  Therefore, on what basis do assert your power of judicial review?
Two, you state that every right that you hold to exist as a matter of law can be found within the words of the Constitution and that judges engage in ‘judicial activism’ when they find rights other than those specifically listed.  How do you reconcile this view with the plain words of the Ninth Amendment, which states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And of course there is the general conservative tendency to bend or rewrite history. The rise of Nazism in Germany has been well documented, its roots in the consequences and reaction to the Treaty of Versailles, a nationalism and nativism making antisemitism a large part of the appeal of Nazism.  Once Hitler became chancellor (prime minister) he and the Nazi party tried to destroy any possible rivals to his position, rearmed Germany, and launched a campaign of violence against the Jews. He became the dictator by burning the Reichstag building and blaming the communists. The general public, or enough of them anyway were worked up into a state of fear and hysteria allowing Hitler to suspend civil rights. No court rulings required. With a Nazi majority in the Reichstag, Hitler was then able to pass The Enabling Act, which gave him complete legislative and executive power for four years. Any regular court rulings Hitler did not like were ignored, not that at the time, there were any. Hitler established his own court so that he could carry out his agenda with the gaze of what appeared to be legal proceedings, The People’s Court,

The People’s Court (German: Volksgerichtshof) was a Sondergericht, a special court, established in 1934 by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who had been dissatisfied with the outcome of the Reichstag Fire Trial (all but one of the accused were acquitted). The “People’s Court” was set up outside the operations of the constitutional frame of law. The court had jurisdiction over a rather broad array of “political offenses,” which included crimes like black marketeering, work slowdowns, defeatism and treason against the Third Reich. These crimes were viewed by the court as Wehrkraftzersetzung (“disintegration of defensive capability”) and were accordingly punished severely. The death penalty was meted out in numerous cases in this court.

The Court handed down an enormous number of death sentences under Judge-President Roland Freisler, including those that followed the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler. Many of those found guilty by the Court died in the Plötzensee prison. The proceedings of the court were often even less than show trials in that some cases, such as that of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans Scholl and fellow White Rose activists concluded in less than an hour, without evidence being presented or arguments made by either side.

Just my take, I would resist the temptation to call Scalia crazy. Since we do not have actual clinical evidence for that. Though we can assume, with what he has reportedly said on this and other occasions, that he is a malevolent zealot who has dishonored the nation’s highest court.

Quite a few years back a formerly Republican judge noted that conservatives had too often decided to take political and constitutional positions and than scurried around trying to find rationale for them. That continues to this day and seems to be getting worse.


America’s Shame, Conservative Supreme Court Justices Gut Voting Rights and Freedom

The Oztoticpac Lands Map

The Oztoticpac Lands Map, c1540. This is both a map and Mexican legal document concerning a lawsuit involving the estate of Don Carlos Ometochtli Chichimecatecotl, an Aztec lord and one of the many sons of Nezahualpilli, ruler of Texcoco. Don Carlos was charged with heresy and publicly executed by the Spanish authorities on November 30, 1539. An old political trick, still in use today. Though political hitmen do not tend to have their victims hanged, if someone has something the powers that be want, trump up some spurious charges to get rid of them. The outcome of that lawsuit is not known. The map-document is historically important as the lower left is a gloss of European fruit trees and grape vines grafted onto indigenous tree stock, the only such image of this agricultural technique known to exist in any Mexican indigenous pictorial document.

On Voting Rights, A Decision As Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott

Let’s be clear about what has just happened. Five unelected, life-tenured men this morning declared that overt racial discrimination in the nation’s voting practices is over and no longer needs all of the special federal protections it once did. They did so, without a trace of irony, by striking down as unconstitutionally outdated a key provision of a federal law that this past election cycle alone protected the franchise for tens of millions of minority citizens. And they did so on behalf of an unrepentant county in the Deep South whose officials complained about the curse of federal oversight even as they continued to this very day to enact and implement racially discriminatory voting laws.

In deciding Shelby County v. Holder, in striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the five conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, didn’t just rescue one recalcitrant Alabama jurisdiction from the clutches of racial justice and universal enfranchisement. By voiding the legislative formula that determines which jurisdictions must get federal “preclearance” for changes to voting laws, today’s ruling enables officials in virtually every Southern county, and in many other jurisdictions as well, to more conveniently impose restrictive new voting rules on minority citizens. And they will. That was the whole point of the lawsuit. Here is the link to the ruling.

In a 5-4 ruling over liberal dissent, the Supreme Court today declared “accomplished” a “mission” that has become more, not less, dire in the four years since the justices last revisited the subject. They have done so by focusing on voter turnout, which surely has changed for the better in the past fifty years, and by ignoring the other ruses now widely employed to suppress minority votes.

As expected there are some specious conservative rationale for bringing back part of Jim Crow; well now Congress can just go back and fix the law. This is a weird circular argument. The Voting Rights Act was the law that fixed disenfranchisement of some voters. Though mainly thought of as a civil rights laws concerning minority voters, the law also protected students and women voters. To go back and draft a new version of the same law is the legal equivalent of a hamster wheel. Repealing Section 4 places more burden on some voters, including African-Americans, Latinos, the elderly and women – women as a group frequently have name changes because of marriage. That means restrictive laws, enforced by people who like Jim Crow-lite are more likely to turn away a female voter because, hey, the name on your new license is different from the one on your voter registration. Conservatives may see some short term gains in like the 2014 mid-terms, but if Democrats run on it, and they will, those gains might be canceled out by a very motivated base of more progressive voters – The Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision Is a Poison Chalice for the GOP. Though Josh Green is right as far as he goes, he does not address changing demographics. Texas is going to be purple by 2016. Very good chance a good Democratic candidate can take Texas in 2016. Florida, a state that drifts between purple and blue is, after the Romney-Ryan plan to gut Medicare, pretty much a lock in 2016 for Democrats. Scott Walker and the Koch brothers better take lots of pictures to enjoy the memories because Wisconsin, with its working class American base will go back to its progressive roots. That leaves conservatives with an ever shrinking base of hardcore regressive southern conservatives. Recently someone said that Republicans were the party of the Confederacy. After which there was the usual round of faux outrage. The conservatives on the SCOTUS just made the Confederacy accusation all that much obvious than it already was. Since I don’t believe in crystal balls it is nice that the regressive conservatives in Texas did not make it necessary to put out some invalid predictions resulting from striking down Section 4. We know what will happen because it is already happening, Two Hours After The Supreme Court Gutted The Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters

Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities.

In 2012, the Justice Department blocked these measures under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts agreed that both the strict voter ID law and the redistricting map would disproportionately target the state’s fast-growing minority communities. Still, Texas filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court over the Voting Rights Act case complaining that the DOJ had used “abusive and heavy-handed tactics” to thwart the state’s attempts at voter suppression.

In the case of the new electoral map, a panel of federal judges found that “substantial surgery” was done to predominantly black districts, cutting off representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases. Meanwhile, white Congress members’ districts were either preserved or “redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren.” The new map was also drawn in secret by white Republican representatives, without notifying their black and Latino peers. After the court blocked the map, the legislature approved small changes to appease Democratic lawmakers last week. Now that they are free to use the old maps, however, Gov. Rick Perry (R) could simply veto the new plan and use the more discriminatory maps.

The strict photo ID requirement blocked by the DOJ and a federal court would require Texans to show one of a very narrow list of acceptable photo IDs. Expired gun licenses from other states are considered valid, but Social Security cards and student IDs are not. If voters do not have an ID — as many minorities, seniors, and poor people do not — they must travel at their own expense, produce their birth certificate, and in many cases pay a fee to get an ID.

Thanks to the Supreme Court, the DOJ no longer has any power to block these laws, even with the backing of federal judges who found blatant discrimination. Under the remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act, individuals may sue to kill these measures, but only after they have gone into effect and disenfranchised countless Texans of color.

According to the 2010 Census, non-Hispanic whites have become a minority in Texas, down from 52.4 percent to 45.3 percent of the population. Latinos have accounted for 65 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade. Projections show that the eligible voter pool will shift to roughly 44 percent white voters and 37 percent Hispanic voters by 2025. Faced with this demographic reality, conservatives have alternated between changing their messaging to appeal to Latino voters, who overwhelmingly supported Democrats in 2012, and making it harder for them to vote.

The examples roll in almost daily of why conservatives of color like Ben Carson ‘Racist’ white liberals want me on ‘the plantation’ and Herman Cain ‘I Left The Democrat Plantation A Long Time Ago’, are not just politically clueless, but malevolent denialists. They remind me of George W. Bush who read the Presidential Daily Brief that said Bin laden likely to attack and did nothing. Reality, decency and acting for the common good, just doesn’t penetrate the conservative mind. The movement itself suffers from a permanent case of cognitive dissonance.

Speaking of Texas. Not everyone there is a knuckle dragger,

The victory was the result of an extraordinary effort from Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, who, in a back brace, filibustered the measure for nearly 11 hours — and would have kept going had Republicans not shut her down, saying her speech strayed from the chamber’s filibuster rules.

…As for the bill that Davis and her allies helped kill, GOP lawmakers in the state intended to ban all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and close all but five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas.

For proponents of reproductive rights, last night offered a genuinely inspirational moment, but it’s worth noting that this fight may soon have another round.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who’s eager to sign the sweeping new restrictions, may very well call state lawmakers back to work for another special session, at which point the same proposal will be considered once more.

Dewhurst hinted that this scenario is, in fact, quite likely. “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon,” he said.

Regardless, I don’t think anyone will soon forget what we saw from Wendy Davis, or just how many people were eager to #StandWithWendy.

Davis tweeted her victory. Thus far she has 17,000 retweets. Way to go Wendy.

The Man of Commerce Map – Irreconcilable Differences, Democrats Are Adults, Republicans Are Brats

The Man of Commerce Map

“The Man of Commerce” is a detailed map that conflates human anatomy with the American transportation system. Published in 1889 by the Land & River Improvement Company of Superior, Wisconsin, the map promotes Superior as a transportation hub and shows the routes of 29 railroads across the United States. The outline map of North America is superimposed by a cutaway diagram of the human body. The map’s metaphor makes West Superior “the center of cardiac or heart circulation.” The railways become major arteries. New York is “the umbilicus through which this man of commerce was developed.” The explanatory notes conclude: “It is an interesting fact that in no other portion of the known world can any such analogy be found between the natural and artificial channels of commerce and circulatory and digestive apparatus of man.” Use of the human body as a cartographic metaphor dates back at least to the 16th century, to the anthropomorphic map of Europe as a queen in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmography (1570). This map may be the earliest application of this metaphor to North America. The cartographer was A.F. McKay, who in 1889 briefly served as the editor of the Superior Sentinel newspaper. The map was engraved by Rand McNally. The American Geographical Society Library acquired the map in 2009, aided in part by the Map Society of Wisconsin. The only other known copy of this map is in a private collection.

Most of the time regionalism in the U.S. – a kind of localized nationalism – is between friends or business. People take pride in where they’re from and the advantages of living there. This map took regionalism to  extraordinary heights. Mckay had to really extend his imagination to make Superior THE U.S. hub of commerce. Below is the Sebastian Münster’s 1570 map done in a similar spirit for Europe. In 1570 there was tremendous trade competition between Europe and the two giants of commerce, India and China.

Anthropomorphic map of Europe as a queen in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmography (1570)

As the presidential campaign heads into the summer I cannot help but wonder what people see when they look at Mitt Romney. As has been the frequently painful to watch spectacle of conservatives running for office on the morality ticket Romney can claim some traditional moral standards, like fidelity. Fidelity is a a moral issue, but more a personal one than political. If it is political certainly President Obama and the vast majority of Democratic officials can claim that moral ground as much as Mitt. Though these personal moral standards are not the only ones. According to one Gallop poll about morality there are only four issues that truly split the country, we all pretty much agree on everything else. There is a glaring omission from that poll: Obtaining money by nefarious means or outright stealing. To me that is a huge issue. If you’re at the median in income or below – half the country, if someone takes your laptop or smartphone, they are stealing work from you – the hours and labor you put in to make that purchase. That is in addition to the costs of the intangibles like personal information. When Mitt Romney and Bain raided corporations they always made sure they make money, lots and lots of money – sometimes taking government subsidies at tax payer expense and they made money whether the takeover resulted in the corporation surviving, making a profit after reorganization. This was all apparently legal, but was it moral. Was it right to lay off workers, outsource jobs and make still bill those companies for Bain’s “services”. Romney like to use the word freedom a lot in his speeches. Wonderful word freedom. yet in this Orwellian world we all know that words like freedom can be used by some malevolent characters to defend of egregious behavior. In that regard Romney is a typical Republican, use good words to mask deeply immoral actions. In terms of truthfulness and ethics, Romney may already have accomplished what would have seemed impossible just four years ago, surpassed George W. Bush in his magnitude of immoral behavior – and Mitt is not even president.

Ezra Klein write this editorial last year, Obama revealed: A moderate Republican

Take health-care reform. The individual mandate was developed by a group of conservative economists in the early ’90s. Mark Pauly, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was one of them. “We were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance,” he told me recently. The conservative Heritage Foundation soon had an individual-mandate plan of its own, and when President Bill Clinton endorsed an employer mandate in his health-care proposal, both major Republican alternatives centered on an individual mandate. By 1995, more than 20 Senate Republicans — including Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar and a few others still in office — had signed one individual mandate bill or another.

As we all know Obamacare is basically the same plan Romney signed into law in Massachusetts which was modeled on health care reform advocated by the far Right conservative Heritage Foundation. There are really only a couple of issues driving this election cycle. Most of them can be put under the general heading of the economy. The other is Right’s desire to destroy the health care reform plan that was modeled on their plan. There is a temptation to think that old canard about life being like high school is kind of funny, but not true. These men and women in Congress are serious people with good mature adult reasons for taking the positions they do, right? In regards Conservatives, life is like a high school where everyday is like playing king of the hill. That is why they are hell bent on repealing the ACA. President Obama and Democrats will get credit for doing something they did not have the political courage to do. Republicans support Obama’s health reforms — as long as his name isn’t on them

What’s particularly interesting about this poll is that solid majorities of Republicans favor most of the law’s main provisions, too.

I asked Ipsos to send over a partisan breakdown of the data. Key points:

* Eighty percent of Republicans favor “creating an insurance pool where small businesses and uninsured have access to insurance exchanges to take advantage of large group pricing benefits.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents.

* Fifty-seven percent of Republicans support “providing subsidies on a sliding scale to aid individuals and families who cannot afford health insurance.” That’s backed by 67 percent of independents.

* Fifty-four percent of Republicans favor “requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employers.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents.

* Fifty two percent of Republicans favor “allowing children to stay on parents insurance until age 26.” That’s backed by 69 percent of independents.

* Seventy eight percent of Republicans support “banning insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions; 86 percent of Republicans favor “banning insurance companies from cancelling policies because a person becomes ill.” Those are backed by 82 percent of independents and 87 percent of independents.

* One provision that isn’t backed by a majority of Republicans: The one “expanding Medicaid to families with incomes less than $30,000 per year.”

“Most Republicans want to have good health coverage,” Ipsos research director Chris Jackson tells me. “They just don’t necessarily like what it is Obama is doing.”

I’d add that Republicans and independents favor regulation of the health insurance system in big numbers. But the law has become so defined by the individual mandate — not to mention Obama himself — that public sentiment on the reforms themselves has been entirely drowned out. It’s another sign of the conservative messaging triumph in this fight and the failure of Dems to make the case for the law.

Its like your mom and dad both made the exact same PB&J sandwich, but you liked mom’s best. There has been quite a bit of analysis written about how Democrats frame their messages. Time and again if you ask the public about a specific policy or piece of legislation without including labels, Democratic policies always win. On the issues the U.S. is left of center. So what kind of message do you formulate for adults who see the same two PB&J sandwiches and reject one because Democrats made it. Obama and Democrats did use mostly Conservative messages – health care reform will save the country money ( confirmed by the CBO). The mandate which the conservatives cited above championed, was the responsible thing to do. Yet Republicans are willing to increase the deficit – which they suddenly started caring about in 2009 – by $230 billion dollars. Romney, the guy running as a weirdly moral candidate promises to repeal the ACA, thus increase the deficit as part of his first 100 days as president. Moral Mittens will repeal legislation that Republicans support as long as it is known as Obama’s or Democrat’s legislation. We are not now or in the near future going to have one those mature serious and civil public debates about issues like health care reform, or the deficit or anything else because one of the participants in the debate is a diaper wearing, perpetually pouting brat.

That an ATF agent died, as well as hundreds of Mexicans makes Fast and Furious and its predecessor program tragic. Yet the political circus around it is ripe for satire. The Real Scandal of Fast and Furious

Actually, despite silly headlines like this, it’s not a complicated story at all. Operation Fast and Furious — hey, let’s give guns to bad guys, what could possibly go wrong? — was a bad idea, poorly done, and thus not unlike hundreds or thousands of other poorly conceived and executed government plans of recent memory. (Like the Iraq War, for example). The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, deserves no small measure of blame for thinking that such a dangerous, unwieldy sting could be completed, successfully, without a great deal of unintended pain and sorrow.

To the right, the story has been an election-year blessing, a roiling melange of: (1) gun righteousness; (2) antipathy toward Holder, and; (3) fear and loathing of Mexico and Mexicans. When Colbert mocks the vast “conspiracy” the right sees in all of this — what’s the matter, good old-fashioned bureaucratic incompetence isn’t good enough anymore? — it’s hilariously funny until you realize that tens of millions of people evidently believe the plot to be true. “If I lie in a lawsuit involving the fate of my neighbor’s cow, I can go to jail,” Walter Lippmann wrote in 1919:

But if I lie to a million readers in a matter involving war and peace, I can lie my head off, and, if I choose the right series of lies, be entirely irresponsible.

As I’ve followed the story — and so much of it has been told so well by my CBS News colleague Sharyl Attkisson — I keep thinking about the mission and the frustrations of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. The folks there are, unsurprisingly, apoplectic at the week’s events. A Republican-dominated Congress that has done nothing to stop gun trafficking on the Mexican border all of sudden is concerned enough about gun trafficking on the Mexican border to quickly hold contempt hearings and a floor vote?

This might be some kind of record, the first and last time conservatives suddenly cared about dead Mexicans. Its a brilliant game. Issa asks for documents – thus far Holder has handed over 140,000 which you know darn well Issa has not bothered to read. Every time Holder hands over more documents Issa, like a knee jerk reflex replies this is not enough, you’re hiding something. If Holder took Issa by the hand to the record archive at the DOJ and said here, go for it. Issa would claim Holder has buried what he wants in some secret hiding place. All of this egged on by the NRA who claims Holder is using F&F to pass some Draconian gun laws. The only obvious problem with that is that neither Congressional Democrats or the President has introduced even one new gun law. The Bush 41 gun laws against assault style rifles was allowed to expire without the slightest attempt to renew. We still have the gun show loophole or as some call it the loophole for terrorists courtesy the Bush 43 administration where any wacko r terrorist in a hurry can buy their gun without a background check. That is another issue on which Democrats get a thumps up from voters – they want background checks. Would Founders like James Madison really support selling a 9mm semi-automatic to a convicted rapist.

The Madness of Justice Antonin Scalia

For what seems like decades a conventional wisdom, built largely by a handful of Supreme Court correspondents, has held that Justice Antonin Scalia is the high court’s most brilliant, disciplined, albeit ideological, member. He is also, according to this conventional wisdom, deliciously witty.

[  ]….In a piece for Salon, Paul Campos, for instance, is not mincing words about the tottering justice. Scalia, Campos writes, “has in his old age become an increasingly intolerant and intolerable blowhard: a pompous celebrant of his own virtue and rectitude, a purveyor of intemperate jeremiads against the degeneracy of the age, and now an author of hysterical diatribes against foreign invaders, who threaten all that is holy.”

Campos was referring to Scalia’s concurring, dissenting opinion issued in Arizona v. U.S. where a majority of the justices invalidated three of provisions, and weakened a fourth, of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law. In his opinion Scalia not only railed against alleged dangers undocumented persons pose to Arizona, but also ruminated about state sovereignty and took a shot at President Obama’s actions on immigration policy.

As Campos and others note, Scalia simply cannot contain his partisan leanings. Campos thinks the justice “no longer cares that he sounds increasingly like a right-wing talk radio host rather than a justice of the Supreme Court ….”  

In part, Scalia complained in his dissent that if Arizona does not have the power to secure its borders with unconstitutional laws, “we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state.”

During the ACS Supreme Court Review, former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger also challenged Scalia’s off-the-wall take on state sovereignty.

Calling it the most “striking question” asked this Term, Dellinger cited Scalia’s question to the federal government, during oral argument in Arizona v. U.S. “What does state sovereignty mean if it does not include the right to defend your borders,” Dellinger read Scalia’s question from the oral argument transcript.

Well that implies, Dellinger said, that New York could forbid people from New Jersey “from coming into the state.”

The states, however, are not sovereign in the sense Scalia sees them, Dellinger said.

For instance, he noted, “They can’t coin money, they can’t have an army, they can’t have a navy, they can’t engage in treaties, they can’t make a compact with another quasi-sovereign, without the express permission of Congress. Those are not attributes of an entity that has sovereignty. But the notion that a justice could think that controlling the borders of the state is an attribute of sovereignty that a state has, fundamentally transforms, I think, the nature of our Constitution.”

When it comes to state’s right  Scalia, like a lot of the wacky Right, seems to forget their version of sovereignty was rejected in a little confrontation called the Civil War and the Constitutionalists won, and the treasonous Confederates lost.

P.S. Over the years I got a couple of interviews with Nora Ephron and saw her movies of course. She seemed like such a warm, smart and funny woman. Writer and Filmmaker With a Genius for Humor.

Autumn Path wallpaper

fall wallpaper

Autumn Path wallpaper . That is a statue at the end of the path, not a person.

This is handy link to some other links about the general mood of Democrats and some mistaken perceptions – Events, New Realities, and the Right Attitude

Apparently there’s been some hand-wringing about Josh Marshall’s piece published last night entitled “Events Create New Realities.”  Is he giving up on the midterms?  Well, no, but Josh has a crucial point to make:

How well will Democrats stand up to the headline that says Republicans win 50 House seats?

And remember, it won’t be “Republicans win 50 House Seats.”

The headline will read “Angry Country Repudiates Obama Agenda, Embraces Small Government Conservative Values.” And that will be the Times. Believe me, it won’t be pretty.

In any case, a lot of folks are thinking, well, sure the Republicans take the House and maybe they even take the Senate. But Obama’s got the veto pen and the big legislation has already been pushed through. And if they come after Social Security, c’mon, let them try: Obama can veto whatever they pass. And they’ll kill themselves for 2012.

But all of this is based on the premise that the Democrats — congressional leaders and the White House — are going to be something like the same people on November 3rd as they were on November 1st. And a lot of painful history, the post-Scott Brown victory period being only the most recent example, says that’s a very bad assumption.

It is a mistake to feel defeatist and then console oneself about that self-induced defeatism with the hollow consolation that Obama still has the veto. Government will not shut down if Democrats lose both Houses. Republicans will run down the clock to 2012 with witch hunt based hearings and with the help of conservative Democrats may be able to override some vetoes. What is the electorate upset about? There are specifics on the periphery, but the problem that accounts for the most points in polls is jobs:

Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein, in one of those necessary takedowns of Matt Bai, said it the best:

It’s not complicated at all: Obama’s approval ratings have fallen because the economy stinks.  End of story.  Anything else is on the margins…and it’s certainly possible that everything else is pushing his ratings up, not down.

President Obama is clearly not a progressive’s dream president, but he is progress. He might not be as much progress as many would like, but that is the nature of moving forward in politics. What we’ve gotten so far (90 Accomplishments of Pres. Obama Which The Media Fails to Report, Voters’ anxiety clouds Obama’s historic successes) is not bad considering the Republican minority – with the help of Senate rules – has managed to block so much. President Obama is civil to a fault and I will have to wait for the autobiography in 7 or 8 years to really understand his obsession with reaching out to conservatives when “They talk about me like a dog”. One thing that is frequently over looked is Obama’s presidency and the Supreme Court. If Little John and Sarah were running the joint we’d have two more right-wing extremists on the court. In 2012 if my choice is the less than perfect Obama versus what will certainly be a rabid right-wing conservative opponent I’ll vote for Obama because the SCOTUS has such a far reaching effect on how the Constitution is interpreted. Jobs are an important issue on the front burner and a tragedy a whole generation will pay for, but the SCOTUS is about having a country worth living in. According to polls which says many Americans – regardless of party – cannot even name a SCOTUS justice, this may seem like an esoteric issue, but its a damn good reason to at least vote for a Democratic senator in 2010 and the Democratic presidential nominee in 2012. Obama’s poll numbers and jobs are important in the short term. In the long term as the Supreme Court goes so goes the nation. If we get a couple more moderates like Sotomeyer and Kagan on the court than it would certainly help with all those issues which spike Glenn Greenwald’s blood pressure – Obama wins the right to invoke “State Secrets” to protect Bush crimes. If there is a SCOTUS dominated by moderate justices neither Obama or any other president will be able to cloak paranoia and political considerations in supposed national security concerns.

The National Review On-lines Andrew McCarthy has had another public bed wetting episode – Late Night: The Unbearable Wetness of Andy

Andy McCarthy thinks sensible people are “enraged” at him just because they say “what the fuck are you talking about?” His perception of this response is inaccurate. Sensible people merely tend to become irritated at nonsense.

This is because the idea that “in terms of doctrine there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam’” is gibberish. It is, indeed, precisely the kind of charge that could be leveled at any doctrine or ideology. I could just as easily prove that “defining yourself as a Conservative leads inexorably to a tendency to make an ass of yourself on the Internet,” for instance.  Probably it’d be even easier.

If there are no moderate Muslims shouldn’t we be nuking about a dozen countries right now. Estimates vary but the US has about 3 to 6 million adherents of Islam. More than enough to have a 9-11 every week if they are all truly all murderous radicals. McBedWetter’s arguments are not about logic or facts. They are, as they have been for nine years, about eliminationism. Chip away at the veneer of any conservative stance on any issue from university education to women’s rights to the Constitution’s equal protection clause and you always get that defining eliminationism. If Islam suddenly disappeared tomorrow, conservatives wouldn’t miss a beat in creating the next boogeyman to soil their Depends over.

CHART OF THE DAY: A Huge Chunk Of The Old Stimulus Hasn’t Even Hit The Economy Yet

The Right’s Distortion of the Law and Science to Get Kagan

Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan once suggested the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) change some wording on the summary of a research paper they did about the extremely rare  use of intact D&Es. A procedure the Right has cowed the media and Congress  into calling “partial-birth abortions”.  This was supposed to be the gotcha moment except they left out a few details – Righties and “Medical Science”: Still at Odds

Somehow, in the fevered imagination of righties, a professional organization representing 90 percent of U.S. board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists was duped by Kagan into telling a lie, or something, and because this wording came from Kagan it must not actually reflect the views of ACOG. Coffin concludes,

Now we learn that language purporting to be the judgment of an independent body of medical experts devoted to the care and treatment of pregnant women and their children was, in the end, nothing more than the political scrawling of a White House appointee.

Miss Kagan’s decision to override a scientific finding with her own calculated distortion in order to protect access to the most despicable of abortion procedures seriously twisted the judicial process. One must question whether her nomination to the Court would have the same effect.

But no scientific finding was “overridden,” just clarified, and ACOG must have agreed with the statement or they wouldn’t have continued to repeat it in their position papers ever after.

Shannen W. Coffin, the writer of the italicized commentary, was a legal hack at the DOJ under Bush. Who better to come forward and subvert both the law and science. Apparently Kagan’s influence, like all Democrats, is nearly god-like in it’s power since the ACOG is still using language very similar to Kagan’s – ACOG Statement on the US Supreme Court Decision Upholding the, Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, For Release:  April 18, 2007

Despite the fact that the safety advantages of intact dilatation and evacuation (intact D&E) procedures are widely recognized—in medical texts, peer-reviewed studies, clinical practice, and in mainstream, medical care in the United States—the US Supreme Court today upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) amicus brief opposing the Ban, the Act will chill doctors from providing a wide range of procedures used to perform induced abortions or to treat cases of miscarriage and will gravely endanger the health of women in this country.

“Today’s decision to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is shameful and incomprehensible to those of us who have dedicated our lives to caring for women,” said Douglas W. Laube, MD, MEd, ACOG president. “It leaves no doubt that women’s health in America is perceived as being of little consequence.

“We have seen a steady erosion of women’s reproductive rights in this country. The Supreme Court’s action today, though stunning, in many ways isn’t surprising given the current culture in which scientific knowledge frequently takes a back seat to subjective opinion,” he added.

This decision discounts and disregards the medical consensus that intact D&E is safest and offers significant benefits for women suffering from certain conditions that make the potential complications of non-intact D&E especially dangerous. Moreover, it diminishes the doctor-patient relationship by preventing physicians from using their clinical experience and judgment.

I was almost hoping this particular right-wing smear would work since Diane Wood is my preferred choice for Supreme Court Justice and was reportedly the second choice behind Kagan. It has never been the case that the president’s second choice has been rejected by the Senate so the Right would have been due some credit for getting a more liberal Justice on the court.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)  Has ‘No Idea’ Whether He Would Have Voted To Confirm Thurgood Marshall

Moreover, Republicans can’t seem to provide any evidence to support their claim that Marshall was an “activist” judge. Talking Points Memo asked Coburn, Hatch, and Sessions which of Marshall’s opinions best exemplified his activism — “none of them could name a single case.” As the National Urban League’s Stephanie Jones wrote in today’s Washington Post, “Unlike many of his detractors, past and present, Marshall showed the utmost reverence for the Constitution” by defending equal rights for all Americans.

Let’s be fair. The notion that Justice Marshall was “activist” probably came to the three stooges of conservatism in a vision. Isn’t that all the intellectuality depth and honesty America has come to expect from Republicans.

Spring Green Rye wallpaper and Some Wacky Highlights From ConWorld

Spring Green Rye wallpaper


Making everything worse as usual, Megan McArdle:

I haven’t generated great interest in the Elena Kagan nomination.

Why was she trying to generate interest in the Kagan nomination? Oh, right: Words, meaning, Humpty Dumpty, etc.

But I do think that David Brooks is onto something when he notes that her relentless careerism, her pitch-perfect blandness, are a little creepy… the driven, hyperachieving spawn of the Ivy League meritocracy…

What’s disturbing is that this is what our nomination process now selects for: someone who appears to be in favor of nothing except self-advancement.

My take on Kagan is that she is yet another disappointment for liberals, but I’m glad I’m defending her from unfair attacks rather than writing about John The Gigolo McCain’s second nomination to the SCOTUS. Every Justice on the Court is from the Ivy League, most of them Conservatives. McArdle – who is not the least bit interested  – wakes from her lifelong nap to draw a line in the slobber over her keyboard at one more Ivy Leaguer. And pardon her and Brookemiester’s hypocrisy – on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays Democrats are all lazy leftists on welfare, but on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday Democrats are ruthlessly ambitious.  Erick “Bubba Bubbason” Erickson objections to Kagan are perfectly normal for someone has probably downed one too many shots of dishwasher detergent. Detergents have been shown to kill the will to do research before penning one’s factless opinions and claiming they’re the truth. Blogger/plagiarist Ben Domenech has sworn Kagan is gay and Andrew Sullivan for reasons I would rather not know more about, desperately hopes she is gay, but Kagan is not. Which answers the hottest issue of the day.

Tea Parties Rage as Taxes Hit Lowest Level Since 1950

For almost a year and a half, furious Tea Party protesters have been chanting “Taxed Enough Already.” But as it turns out, “taxed enough” actually means “at the lowest levels since 1950.” That’s the word from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which found that Americans paid the smallest overall tax bill since Harry Truman was in the White House. Of course, that inconvenient truth for Tea Baggers is tied to another: their plummeting payments are due in part to the tax relief delivered by President Obama.

The tea nuts are not about issues so we can throw all the charts, statistics and studies in the world at them and they’ll still be pissed off. These are the last 25% that thought Dubya and Cheney walked on water and dammitt they’re not going to take responsibility for voting Republican for five election cycles and enabling the financial meltdown and that trillion dollar picnic in Iraq. They got rid of far Right Republican Bob Bennett(R-UT) for an even further Right candidate, which certainly kills the wacky claim the tea partay was bipartisan. This is part of their goal not to correct course from the policies of the Bush years, but to gain enough power to turn so far Right they make Bush seem like a progressive. Hatch Explains Bennett’s Defeat: Tea Party Doesn’t ‘Have An Open Mind And They Won’t Listen’

HATCH: A lot of these Tea Party people are angry, and I’m angry too. … I mean my gosh, They’re mad. They have a right to be mad and I think these Tea Party people are doing the country a service. But when they don’t have an open mind and they won’t listen, that’s another matter and that’s something I think anybody would find fault with.

Also noted at the link is a poll showing that the rabid-Right Hatch could not win reelection if he was running in this cycle. The tea bagger conservatives would replace him with – surprise – someone even further Right. I would like to thank the tea nuts for the irony of Orrin Hatch complaining about closed minds.


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for failing to provide CREW with records relating to the missing John Yoo emails. In February 2010, DOJ made public a July 2009 report of its investigation into the roles of former high-ranking Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) officials John Yoo and Patrick Philbin in the drafting of OLC’s torture memos, which authorized the use of torture when interrogating detainees outside of the United States. The investigation was hampered by the fact that most of Mr. Yoo’s emails and many of Mr. Philbin’s had disappeared.

Religion can bring out the best in people, sometimes not – Muhammad cartoonist ‘head-butted’ during lecture

A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted Tuesday as furious protesters interrupted his university lecture about the limits of free speech.A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted Tuesday as furious protesters interrupted his university lecture about the limits of free speech.

Why this faction of fundie Muslims is choosing to live in a liberal democracy is a mystery. With freedom comes the freedom to be offensive. If they want to live in an authoritarian theocracy as Sarah Palin would like, they need to find some place like Iran.

Mojave cross at center of court fight reported stolen – there are at least three schools are speculation – those darn atheists did it, someone did it purely to sell off the scrape metal and conservative pranksters ala James O’Keefe did it hoping to cast blame on liberals.

Frank Buono, a former Park Service employee, initiated the lawsuit, saying the cross represented government endorsement of the Christian faith. A federal appeals court ultimately agreed, and rejected a move by Congress in 2003 to transfer the tiny portion of land where the cross sits to the VFW as a privately held national memorial.

The transfer of the land to the VFW sounded like a good compromise.

The Gulf Spill Truther Movement – Poll: Ten percent of Americans believe environmentalists intentionally caused oil spill

Elena Kagan – The Good, Bad and the Subjective

mountain landscape

Flying Over Snow Capped Mountains wallpaper

For those not living in a cave Elena Kagan is President Obama’s nomination to the SCOTUS. Here’s the good, bad and variations in between.

Constitutional lawyer and civil rights litigator Glenn Greenwald has posted several times on Kagan. You can access them all via The latest on Elena Kagan

(1) University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos, who previously expressed shock at the paucity of Kagan’s record and compared her to Harriet Miers, has a new piece in The New Republic entitled (appropriately): “Blank Slate.

Kagan does not fair much better as the post goes on. Kagan is not a Blank slate. She has written quite a few scholarly legal papers that few are willing to wage through. That is not so much to defend her as a great choice, only to say some critics – left and right – are not doing their homework. I wish that Glenn had not taken Tweets from two moderate/liberal pundits to damn all liberals as potential mindless endorsers of any SCOTUS pick Obama makes. Liberals greatest strength and weakness is the diversity of opinion, a long way from the cult of personality the Right reserved for George W. Bush. For the sake of balance, also at salon is this piece from James Doty – The liberal case against Kagan is overstated

To begin with, Kagan’s professional biography reveals that she has spent the last several decades working closely with some of the country’s best known left and center-left figures. After graduating from Princeton, where she wrote an article hoping that a “more leftist left” would emerge in American politics, Kagan enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she served as a research assistant for the famed liberal law professor Larry Tribe. After her graduation from Harvard, she clerked first for Abner Mikva, a legendary figure of the American political and judicial left (and an Obama advisor). She next clerked for Thurgood Marshall, another liberal icon, whom Kagan has called her legal hero and the greatest lawyer of the 20th Century.

There is not much I can do about political labeling – the use of the word “left” for example. American liberals have been and continue to be Jeffersonian in their ideals. Kagan’s leftism seems like a blend of Jefferson and his nemesis  Alexander Hamilton. Not the European model the word left generally invokes. As much as Glenn and others think that Kagan is too Conservative, Conservatives have already begun labeling her a bona fide socialist. They have no evidence to support that assertion, but facts tend to jam the right-wing noise machine – Myths and falsehoods about Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination

Walter Dellinger writing at Slate addresses Greenwald’s and others concerns that Kagan is of the unitary executive theory of the presidency and thus unlikely to challenge the on going expansion of presidential power – Elena Kagan Is a Progressive on Executive Power

That is all way off the mark. Let’s take Greenwald’s second point first. As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan sharply and publicly criticized the excessive claims of executive authority put forth by Bush administration lawyers such as John Yoo. In an address at her school’s graduation ceremony in 2007, she forthrightly condemned “the expedient and unsupported legal opinions” used by Yoo and other lawyers to justify violations of federal laws regulating wiretapping and interrogation. Kagan minced no words in her critique of Bush administration lawyers who “failed to respect the law” or who manipulated, bent, or evaded the law “to seek short-term advantage.” She also held up as a model to the graduating students and their families and friends the actions of independent counsel Archibald Cox in standing up to President Nixon. And she praised other lawyers such as Jack Goldsmith, who insisted that President Bush cease the secret wiretapping program because they believed it unlawful.

At least as far as presidential authority goes Delliger thinks Kagan is right in step with the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

What about Citizens United? Marvin Ammori writing at Balkinization in his interpretation of her writings thinks she is closer to the Conservative majority on the court than Stevens – Does Elena Kagan Disagree With Justice Stevens On Citizens United?

You can guess where this post is going.  In one of Dean Kagan’s very few law review articles, she describes the legal “rule” in agreement with Citizens United’s conservative majority, not Stevens’ dissent, and says Austin can’t be distinguished.  She does something similar for phone and cable companies (as I’ll explain), again siding with the largest corporations (and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas) over Stevens.

In the common language of law review articles, the conclusion can almost be implied: these exceptions should be overruled, as they are unjustified exceptions in the law.

What makes United a tough call is not that Kagan argued the adminstraion’s case against United ( that was her job representing her client – the Obama administarion) is that President Obama has made such strong critisms of the SCOTUS ruling on United –  He told Congress (to Alito’s displeasure) that it “reversed a century of law” and would “open the floodgates for special interests.” Would the president appoint someone who’s legal opinions on such a important and just plain boneheaed decision were the exact opposite of his own.

9750 Words on Elena Kagan – More than you ever wanted to know. From the SCOTUS Blog. The title is a bit exaggerated, you’ll have to click through and read Kagan’s published work to get a real sense of her legal point of view. Executive authority has expanded directly and by way of presidential directed agencies over the last 25 years. Kagan thought that Clinton’s expansion were justified in the sense of regulatory power to protect the nation and consumers when pressing issues were not properly handled or expedited by Congress. Not a bad thing some liberals might think on first impression, but a tack that can be abused – see Bush, John Yoo, David Addington, the DOJ under Gonzales and the abuses by the CIA as directed by the White House.
I would have rather done a post celebrating the nomination of Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir.).

And a sad farewell to Lena Horne, Singer and Actress Dies at 92. Lena Horne – Stormy Weather (1943) . A video on YouTube. Horne’s signature song.

Black and White Sand Dune wallpaper, Right-wing Conservatives Crusade Against Basic Rules of Law

Black and White Sand Dune wallpaper

Far Right conservatives such as Marc Thiessen, Andrew McCarthy and Liz Cheney do have values. They just happen to the values of some of history’s worse regimes and tyrants. The United States has a history which includes lynchings and internment camps. Horrible blemishes on our values. Those kinds of incidents are supposed to serve as history’s warnings, examples of taking the wrong turn and losing sight of ideals. Incidents that happened partly because some Americans let their fears and hate get in the way of basic morality and fidelity to founding principles of justice. Thiessen’s Inconsistency Undermines Claim That Detainee Lawyers Can’t Be Compared To John Adams

Thiessen’s argument that Adams was defending “fellow countrymen” and “not foreign enemies” is clever, but it’s undermined by the fact that some of the lawyers Thiessen and the ad impugn did work on behalf of American citizens. In a National Review blog post promoting his PostPartisan column, Thiessen directly attacks a lawyer who advocated on behalf of a detained American citizen:

Eric Holder vs. John Adams [Marc Thiessen]

I have a piece up for the Washington Post explaining why the al-Qaeda lawyers are wrong to wrap themselves in the mantle of John Adams. Thanks to the spade work of Bill Burck and Dana Perino, we now know why Holder was stonewalling on the identities of the “Al Qaeda 7” — he was one of them! If Holder and co. are simply carrying on the traditions of John Adams, why were they hiding their roles in seeking the release of enemy combatants? If they are proud of their work, why don’t they stand up and say so?

Yesterday, Perino and Burck published an article on National Review Online detailing how Holder contributed to, but neglected to tell the Senate about, an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was held as an enemy combatant. Another one of the lawyers smeared by the ad, Joseph Guerra, now Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, worked on a brief urging that the Supreme Court hear Padilla’s case. Another DoJ lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, worked on the case of “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh, an American citizen.

The discrepancy between Thiessen’s Post Partisan argument and the facts is indicative of his arguments in general. In discussing another one of Thiessen’s inconsistent arguments, Time’s Michael Scherer — who considers Thiessen’s vocal crusade to defend the Bush administration’s torture policies “a good thing” — remarked that he was “disappointed with the quality of Thiessen’s arguments, which seem to be designed more for cable news soundbites than for serious discussion.”

Theissen also does not make the distinction, as fine as it may be, that American colonists were a special type of British subject and the colonies had charters and agreements with King George that those who protested at the Boston massacre though the King had betrayed. The British soldiers fired on civilians. Rowdy civilians, but civilians. The colonists did ot decide as the pro tortrue/ pro assumption of guilt far Right conservatives such as Theissen would do – skip the trial and hang the soldiers immediately. The soldiers were indicted not by King George, but by the colonial government. Many Conservatives are constantly rewriting history to serve their agenda.

Orin Kerr also has a post up responding to Theissen, Lawyers, Treason, and Deception: A Response to Andrew McCarthy

Consider McCarthy’s basic argument that lawyers who represented detainees “aided the enemy in wartime,” and should normally be guilty of treason. If that’s true, isn’t the federal judiciary, and aren’t the Justices of the Supreme Court, also guilty of treason? In fact, aren’t the judges the kingpins of this treasonous plot to “hurt the war effort”? After all, lawyers only make arguments to judges. It doesn’t actually help detainees to make argument courts reject. It’s up to the judges to rule one way or the other. If the lawyers are aiding the enemy, they’re only minor players: It’s the judges, and especially the Justices, who are the real guilty parties, as they’re the ones that actually help the detainees by ruling in their favor. Does McCarthy think the Justices of the Supreme Court are guilty of aiding the enemy, and that (if we treat them like everybody else) they should be “indicted for coming to the enemy’s aid during wartime”?

Second, McCarthy’s claims about the right to counsel strike me as just wrong. The Bush Administration had initially taken the view that Yaser Hamdi, detained as an enemy combatant, did not have a right to counsel. The Administration caved when the case got to the Supreme Court, though, and the Supreme Court had this to say about Hamdi’s right to counsel….

A decidedly conservative and usually wankish Supreme Court ruled,

Hamdi asks us to hold that the Fourth Circuit also erred by denying him immediate access to counsel upon his detention and by disposing of the case without permitting him to meet with an attorney. Brief for Petitioners 19. Since our grant of certiorari in this case, Hamdi has been appointed counsel, with whom he has met for consultation purposes on several occasions, and with whom he is now being granted unmonitored meetings. He unquestionably has the right to access to counsel in connection with the proceedings on remand. No further consideration of this issue is necessary at this stage of the case.

Kerr also points out that the same court decided that yes non-citizens also have a right to counsel. The instance in which an innocent Afghanistan taxi driver was picked up and tortured is one of many testaments to the bone headed view of the law taken up by Theissen, McCarthy and Cheney. A view which assumes guilt in each and every circumstance where someone is arrested. Think of the millions we could save by doing away with the courts or correctional facilities and just having assassination squads.

David Luban at Balkinization also responds to right-wingers Andrew McCarthy, Marc Thiessen and former AG Michael Mukasey, A False Analogy: Detainee Lawyers and Torture Lawyers

Thiessen has no use for moral equivalence: for him, torture lawyers are good and detainee lawyers are the equivalent of mob lawyers. But, like Mukasey, he sees a parallel between the two sets of criticisms, and agrees that those who criticize the torture lawyers but not the detainee lawyers are using a double standard, probably for illicit political reasons.

That would include me, since I called the Cheney attacks McCarthyism and have criticized the torture lawyers for years.

But in fact, the parallel is completely bogus. What makes the Cheney attacks McCarthyism is guilt by association, wrapped in innuendo, and cynically appealing to paranoia: Because you represented a detainee, you very likely sympathize with Al Qaeda, and we need to smoke you out.

Nobody ever criticized the torture lawyers because of who they represented, and nobody questioned their loyalty. The criticisms were on three completely different grounds: first, that they made frivolous arguments to get around the law; second, that they violated their ethical and constitutional obligation to give candid, independent advice to the president; and third, that they facilitated a misbegotten plan to torture captives.

Yoo, wrapped in a blanket of arrogance  has admitted he found justification for torture because the administration “they want it in there”.There was no legal reasoning behind Yoo and Bybee’s. They took the desires of their boss, wrote them down and passed purely political opinions off as legal ones.

It is no coincidence that most of those anxious to defend the legal premise that anyone suspected of being a terrorist is not entitled to counsel are also defenders of torture as a matter of policy. Those beliefs are joined at the hip. Assuming guilt is the only way one can remotely began to justify torture. Exploring the Bush Torture Regime’s SERE Origins

As Cato Vice President Gene Healy says “Imagine if, shortly after 9/11, someone had told you that the US government would adopt an interrogation policy based on Chinese Communist techniques designed to elicit false confessions. You’d have thought that person was pretty cynical.” But that’s what they did. Really. SERE training is designed to help stiffen soldiers’ resistance to the sort of torture the North Vietnamese used to “break” John McCain and force him to “confess” to all manner of crimes. It specifically arises out of the experience of American detainees in the Korean War to imitate tactics applied by Communist regimes for the purpose of deriving false confessions. And why shouldn’t it? That’s what torture is good for.

Beautiful Evening City Skyline wallpaper

Beautiful Evening City Skyline wallpaper

Does anyone, Republican or Democrat remember the SOTU speech by President Obama or any other president for that matter. President Obama’s criticism of the SOTU decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was memorable for many Americans regardless of party because the Court ( Chief Justice Roberts included) basically said that more free speech goes hand in hand with having deeper pockets. That goes against legal precedent and it also goes against what many Americans feel, is the spirit of egalitarianism that the U.S. has always stood for in theory, if not always practice. Here we are a couple months later and Chief Justice Robert’s feelings are still bruised. Roberts: Scene at State of Union ‘very troubling’

Roberts said anyone is free to criticize the court and that some have an obligation to do so because of their positions.

“So I have no problems with that,” he said. “On the other hand, there is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum. The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court — according the requirements of protocol — has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling.”

Roberts knows he couldn’t sell the message – no criticism of my decisions – on the free speech front. So why not drag it through the back door as a breach of ‘decorum”. President Obama was not being presidential. A familiar line of attack we all expect from the right-wing peanut gallery – Limbaugh, Malkin, Bill Kristol, Drudge etc. As a matter of coincidence? Its a line up of the usually shady characters echoing Roberts whining – Hot Air, Sister Toldjah, Instapundit and Above the Law. So begins the umpteenth chapter of its OK when Weird-nuts do it, Media conservatives falsely claim Obama’s Supreme Court criticism was “unprecedented”

Reagan directly attacked the Supreme Court for Roe v. Wade. In his 1984 State of the Union address, Reagan attacked the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, during a discussion on abortion:

Harding criticized the Supreme Court for overturning the Child Labor Law in his 1922 State of the Union. In 1922, the Supreme Court found  the Child Labor Law of 1919 to be unconstitutional. In his State of the Union address, President Warren G. Harding criticized the court….

Bush condemned “activist judges” who are “redefining marriage by court order.” In his 2004 State of the Union address, Bush criticized “activist judges” who, according to him, were “redefining marriage by court order”

Roberts has not exactly been the shining beacon of conservative movement legal virtue. Then we have  Justice Antonin Scalia who should have been impeached long along. Then there is Clarence Thomas who’s legal opinions descend from the ether or via memo from  Antonin. Justice Samuel Alito is a second rate hack who is only on the court to carry the Right’s water. Current Conservative members of the court are an insult to justice and American values. President Obama was not just within his rights to point out a glaring instance of that, but should be praised for ignoring the political correctness and faux outrage of the right-wing fringe. If Roberts elite attitudes towards the role and decorum of the SCOTUS  are giving him fits, he can always resign. That would require the character of his convictions. So just expect more whimpering followed by praise from the sheeple.

From Bloomberg no less, Obama Defies Pessimists as Rising Economy Converges With Stocks

Job Losses Ease

Since then, monthly job losses have abated, from 779,000 during the month Obama took office to 36,000 last month. Corporate profits have grown; among 491 companies in the S&P 500 that reported fourth-quarter earnings, profits rose 180 percent from a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. Durable goods orders in January were up 9.3 percent from a year earlier. Inflation is tame, and long-term interest rates remain low.

An economist at Morgan Stanley predicts the economy will produce 300,000 new jobs in March. If we manage even half that and the media notices than Obama should start to get a little of the credit he deserves.

Reconciliation? Republicans are Two Faced Scallywags. 34 Of 41 Senate Republicans Supported Passing Major Domestic Policy Legislation Through Reconciliation

I’ve looked up Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich voting record o VoteSmart. On paper he’s not a bad Democrat – generally pro labor, pro education, pro environment, pro civil rights. He’s just got a bug up his back side about abortion funding. Its aggravating because the language in the Senate bill does not fund abortions. I’m wondering what he and his staff are reading. Why Stupak Is WrongThe Senate bill doesn’t  fund abortions. Here’s why he thinks it does.

Let’s go to Page 2069 through Page 2078 of the Senate-passed bill. It says, “If a qualified plan provides [abortion] coverage … the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to [health reform’s government-funding mechanisms] for purposes of paying for such services.” (This is on Page 2072.) That seems pretty straightforward. No government funding for abortions. (Except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life—the same exceptions granted under current law.) If a health insurer selling through the exchanges wishes to offer abortion coverage—the federal government may not require it to do so, and the state where the exchange is located may (the bill states) pass a law forbidding it to do so—then the insurer must collect from each enrollee (regardless of sex or age) a separate payment to cover abortion. The insurer must keep this pool of money separate to ensure it won’t be commingled with so much as a nickel of government subsidy. (This is on Pages 2072-2074.)

Stupak is right that anyone who enrolls through the exchange in a health plan that covers abortions must pay a nominal sum (defined on Page 125 of the bill as not less than “$1 per enrollee, per month”) into the specially segregated abortion fund. But Stupak is wrong to say this applies to “every enrollee.” If an enrollee objects morally to spending one un-government-subsidized dollar to cover abortion, then he or she can simply choose a different health plan offered through the exchange, one that doesn’t cover abortions. (Under the Senate bill, every insurance exchange must offer at least one abortion-free health plan.)

What Stupak appears to want is for Congress to specially forbid private insurance from offering abortion coverage. Stupak does not appear to be acting on ethics or principle, but on some kind of compulsive obsession. If anyone wants to e-mail the Congressman with their thoughts and a clipping of the column from Slate – he as a form here for contact.

Limbaugh unwittingly praises socialized medicine, again

“I did not say I’m going to Costa Rica,” Limbaugh claimed, even though the audio of him saying exactly that is readily available. “The stupid people in the media who cannot trouble themselves to read my transcripts or listen to this program, listen to out of context stuff. I was asked yesterday where will I go for health care if Obama’s health care passes, and I said if doctors here are not permitted to form private practice little clinics with individuals paying a fee, a retainer, and for services, then I’ll go to Costa Rica to get major medical health care. I didn’t say I would move there.”

This is the second time Limbaugh has unwittingly praised the very type of health care system he claims to despise.