Friday, June 30, 2006

What does Hamdan mean?

In a stunning blow to the President’s claim of nearly unlimited war-time powers, the Supreme Court held in favor of petitioner, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemini who is alleged to have been an intimate of Osama Bin Laden.

Justice Breyer, with whom Justice Kennedy, Justice Souter, and Justice Ginsburg joined, succinctly stated the import of today’s holding:
The dissenters say that today's decision would “sorely hamper the President's ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy.” They suggest that it undermines our Nation’s ability to “preven[t] future attacks” of the grievous sort that we have already suffered. That claim leads me to state briefly what I believe the majority sets forth both explicitly and implicitly at greater length. The Court's conclusion ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the Executive a “blank check.” Cf. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U. S. 507, 536 (2004) (plurality opinion). Indeed, Congress has denied the President the legislative authority to create military commissions of the kind at issue here. Nothing prevents the President from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary.

Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation's ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation's ability to determine--through democratic means--how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same.
Justice John Paul Stevens delivered the opinion of the court, which stated,
We conclude that the military commission convened to try Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and the Geneva Conventions.
It was not a good day for the Bush administration that had elsewhere argued that the Geneva Conventions, though, in the words of Attorney General Gonzales were “quaint,” were inapposite to the current War on Terror.

The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) §1005(e)(1) provides that “no court ... shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider ... an application for ... habeas corpus filed by ... an alien detained ... at Guantanamo Bay.” The Court found that the DTA’s jurisdiction stripping provisions do not apply retroactively to Hamdan’s case, in which the crime charged allegedly occurred the AUFA (Authorization to Use Force in Afghanistan) and the charges were brought before the enactment of the DTA.

Justice Scalia noted that if the court had not denied retroactive application of this jurisdiction stripping statute, it would have had to deal with the provision of the Constitution which states that the Writ of “habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

The bad news for lovers of freedom is that the power of the Great Writ to survive Congress' efforts to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction is still in doubt. Chief Justice Roberts took no part in the Hamdan decision because he was part of a lower court that upheld the President’s military commissions.

In order to deny retroactive effect to the jurisdiction stripping provisions of the DTA, the majority looked at the legislative history of the statute, including the statements of various Senators made during the debate. The dissenters criticized the manner in which this was done, arguing that the statements were quoted selectively.

What does it foretell of the debate to come about the domestic surveillance by the NSA? Clearly, the Congress did not believe that it had authorized the administration to ignore the FISA law when it passed the AUMF. If the Court pays the same deference to congressional intent that it claims to have given here, the domestic spying program is sure to get slapped down.

What I find especially troubling is this parenthetical remark in Scalia’s discussion of the majority’s perusal of legislative history:
(Of course in its discussion of legislative history the Court wholly ignores the President's signing statement, which explicitly set forth his understanding that the DTA ousted jurisdiction over pending cases.)
I first wrote about the pernicious “signing statements” on January 4, 2006, here and here.

It should be observed that when Congress passes a law, the President can sign it or veto it. He knows what is the congressional intent, and he chooses whether to agree or disagree. If he disagrees, then Congress has an opportunity to over-ride the veto. But Bush does not veto bills: he just ignores them. Does Congress have any recourse?

Well, there is always the impeachment thing.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another constitutional crisis narrowly averted.

The Founding Fathers and Mothers, to include Betsy Ross, can rest easy because the Senate has once again resisted the temptation to alter the Bill of Rights by amending it to prohibit flag desecration. The proposed amendment failed by one vote to receive the 2/3 necessary to keep it alive. It’s a good thing, too.

Had it been otherwise, the President of the United States would be guilty of a Constitutional offense, committed flagrantly and in full view of the public, and recorded photographically. See, infra.

Title 4 United States Code § 8 is entitled "Respect for flag."
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
4 USC § 3 says:
Any person who, within the District of Columbia, in any manner, for exhibition or display, shall place or cause to be placed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing, or any advertisement of any nature upon any flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America; ... shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both, in the discretion of the court.
Who knows what would occur if the Chief Executive were to brazenly flout the Constitution in front of God and everyone? If past experience is any guide, the answer is absolutely nothing.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth -- Update

Back on January 28th, I wrote Cool it on the Climate Warming! in which I described the Bush administrations response to the growing consensus that we are reaching a “tipping point” in the coming ecological disaster of global weather change.

I quoted a N.Y. Times article which began,
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist is James Hansen. You can see him in Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” He is testifying before then Senator Al Gore’s committee in 1989.

James Hansen has more to say in the New York Review of Books this weekend. Check it out here.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, do.

“..and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dick Cheney has his feelings hurt

This just in from the New York Times:
WASHINGTON, June 23 — Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday vigorously defended a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database, and harshly criticized the news media for disclosing an operation he said was legal and “absolutely essential” to fighting terrorism.

“What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people,” Mr. Cheney said, in impromptu remarks at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Chicago. “That offends me.”
Memo to Dick Cheney: Get over it.

This administration has enjoyed the biggest free pass from the press since before the days of Peter Zenger. Indeed, King George and Fearless Dick Cheney owe their jobs to the lapdog somnambulance of the press. Consider:
  • In 2000, the press bought into the meme that Bush was a man of character, a successful businessman, ignored his military record and at the same time echoed the ‘Gore is a liar’ storyline.

  • After 9/11, the New York Times consciously decided to bury the story that Gore won the recount in Florida.

  • Before the election of 2004, the New York Times made a deliberate decision to bury the story about the illegal wiretaps until after election day. (Given the closeness of the election, it could have easily tipped the balance.)

  • Dick got a free pass on shooting his friend in the face, which was clearly a felony.
  • And now, Dick Cheney has the chutzpah to complain that the press is hurting his feelings?

    Listen, Dick. You have abused the trust of the American people for a period of 6 years. You have to expect that at some point, nobody is going to take you seriously when you say, “This is a matter of national security.” You have sold us a phony war on that slogan. You and Karl Rove have scared the American people into ‘electing’ you a second time, as it were.

    Now you expect us to believe that the country is going to be made vulnerable because Al Quaeda is suddenly tipped off to the idea that we are trying to track their financial transactions. One would think that they pretty much had that figured out after the conviction of Yemeni cleric Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad. By the way, there is a vast informal banking network throughout the Islamic world. It is the rule, rather than the exception, that terrorists would circumvent the banking system.

    Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but it looks like from now on, the press is going to be a little circumspect when the administration tries to silence it by claiming a threat to national security.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    An obscene gesture

    Yesterday King George the Incompetent signed an "Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American People." In essence the document prohibits the use of imminent domain in all cases except where the government has traditionally exercised eminent domain. The exceptions include cases in which the government takes land and then sells it to private entities. Most significantly, the last paragraph states:
    This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
    So, to review, the executive order changes nothing, creates no new or enforceable rights, and is otherwise meaningless.

    Except, it shows, as if we needed to be shown, what a total hypocrite George Bush is. For details about how Bush made his fortune by using his political influence to get the government to condemn land and then give it to him, see, Condemning Bush.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Cheney admits guilt

    “I don't think anybody anticipated the level of violence we encountered,'” Cheney said in a question-and-answer session following a speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, according to Bloomberg News.

    Am I the only person who considers this an admission, rather than an excuse? These are the people who were in charge of anticipating the level of violence. It’s a little thing I like to call, “planning.”

    Instead of anticipating what may occur in Iraq, the Iraq group was busy making up lies to tell the American people. You remember. We know where the weapons of mass destruction are. Conflating Iraq with 9/11. Welcomed with candies and flowers. Out in three months. Paid for with Iraqi oil, etc., ad nauseum.

    You know, we once had a President who lied to the American people. His name was Richard Millhouse Nixon. The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted out some Articles of Impeachment, and the President had to resign. In case you are too young to remember, one of those articles accused him of “making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States …”

    When Nixon resigned, some people thought the country was saved from fascism. We shall see.

    … and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Joe Biden gets the memo

    Today, the A.P. reported as follows:
    Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said he believes the American people are frustrated by the Bush administration's failure to articulate a clear strategy for winning in Iraq. Benchmarks and timetables for a withdrawal are needed to gauge progress and limit U.S. casualties, he said.

    “If I had known the president was going to be this incompetent in his administration, I would not have given him the authority” to go to war, said Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    Sounds like someone has been reading Big Mitch’s blog.

    Back on Nov. 8, 2005, I asked, Why is it so hard for Democrats to say this? I predicted that the question, “Knowing what you know now, would you vote for the war in Iraq?” would be “a recurrent question from reporters who take their cue from the Republican disinformation machine.”

    I also offered a simple answer for use by any Senator who might need it.
    Let’s get something straight right now. I didn’t vote for this war when I voted to authorize the President to use force.

    Knowing what I know now, I never would have trusted him. What we know now is that he was cherry picking the intelligence, and then twisting it to make his case. That’s what we know now and I suspect we will find out much worse when the full story comes out. So far, we know that the White House undertook a vicious campaign to ruin anyone who disagreed with it, and when they crossed the line into treason, the response was to lie to the FBI, lie to the Grand Jury and otherwise obstruct justice.

    We gave the President authority to use force at a time when we were trying to convey to Saddam Hussein that there was no alternative but to cooperate and produce the evidence of dismantling his WMD regime. But we did not expect the President to go into Iraq without adequate troops, without an exit strategy, and without a plan for the peace. If we had known that he would run the war like the incompetent bungler he has proved to be, if we had known that he would use the war as an opportunity for profiteering by his cronies, if we had known that it would be a distraction from the war on terror, and that because he would fail to listen to military planners the country would become a breeding ground for terrorists, well, don’t be ridiculous, of course we wouldn’t have voted to trust the President.
    You go, Joe!

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Do you want to laugh? Or cry?

    The following is available on the White House website. It is part of the transcript of the today’s presidential press conference in the Rose Garden.
    THE PRESIDENT: … All we expect is people to be treated with respect and there to be self-governance in a way that tolerates differences of opinion.

    Yes, Peter. Are you going to ask that question with shades on?

    Q I can take them off.

    THE PRESIDENT: I'm interested in the shade look, seriously.

    Q All right, I'll keep it, then.

    THE PRESIDENT: For the viewers, there's no sun. (Laughter.)

    Q I guess it depends on your perspective. (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT: Touché. (Laughter.)
    That Dubya is one funny son-of-a-gun. Well, I guess that also depends on your perspective. The above-named Peter is Peter Wallsten, White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

    As Think Progress notes, “[Peter] Wallsten is legally blind. Wallsten tells us he has a rare genetic disorder called Stargardt's Disease. The disease is a form of macular degeneration that can be slowed ‘by wearing UV-protective sunglasses and avoiding exposure to bright light.’”

    You can watch the video here.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Nolle prosequi

    The headline today is, “Rove Won't Be Charged in CIA Leak Case.” As reported by Toni Locy, for AP,
    “Presidential adviser Karl Rove won't be a criminal defendant in the CIA leak case, but he could still end up being grilled in court as a witness.”
    This story appears to be based on a single source, to wit., Robert Luskin, attorney for Turd Blossom. Fitz is not talking.

    There is only one way to put these facts together so that they make sense. Karl Rove has been given a grant of immunity.

    Here’s the way it works. There are two kinds of immunity. One is “use immunity,” and people who receive it are forced to testify, but the prosecution is prevented from using their testimony against them.

    The other kind of immunity is called “transactional immunity.” It means that the subject testifies, but having received immunity for the entire transaction, he or she is at no risk of prosecution, and therefore, has no Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

    In the Federal system, the rule is that to force testimony, the prosecutor must grant use immunity. I’m guessing that this is what happened yesterday.

    As always, there is a catch. First, obviously, a grant of immunity is not a license to commit perjury. Karl Rove may have breathed a sigh of relief today because he is not going to be indicted, but he also must have soiled his skivvies, because he is going to testify. If he lies, there is going to be heavy pressure to indict him. He has testified five times, and it is hard to feature that he will testify without contradicting something that he has already said.

    The other reason that there is not unmitigated joy in Karl Rove’s black and malignant heart* is that the letter that grants immunity usually includes some language to the effect that this grant of immunity is to be null and void if the defendant testifies falsely, or fails to cooperate fully with any interview by the FBI. If the letter Luskin received is typical of similar letters I have seen, it emphasizes that it is entirely up to the U.S. Attorney to determine whether or not he has testified falsely.

    If I were Luskin, I would have some real fears that my client would be unable to restrain himself from lying. But he is not the only one nervous because of today’s news.

    Usually, an immunity letter such as the one I am supposing was received by Luskin doesn’t just drop out of the sky. It is only given after the recipient has made what is called “a proffer.” Basically, a proffer is an offer of testimony that takes the form: “If granted immunity, I will testify that XYZ.”

    Now, Patrick Fitzgerald is what is known in the trade as a “prosecutor.” He is not, generally speaking, called an “immunizer.” He does not pass out the “Get out of jail free” cards for nothing. Whatever XYZ was, it was something that Fitzgerald must have thought was worth something.

    The general strategy for a prosecuting attorney is to go up the chain. It can be up the supply chain in a drug prosecution, or it can be up the chain of command in a fraud prosecution. With Karl Rove, the chain does not go very much further up.

    And here’s why this is a big bummer for Karl Rove. If he offered XYZ, and XYZ is testimony against one or both of the people up the chain from him, it really cuts down the likelihood that one of them will be in a pardoning mood on January 19, 2009.

    As Michelle Malkin said in a different context: “Boo-freakin’-hoo.”

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    *P.S. "Black and malignant heart" is a legal term. Really.

    CORRECTION: Upon further review:

    18 U.S.C. § 6002. Immunity generally

    Whenever a witness refuses, on the basis of his privilege against
    self-incrimination, to testify or provide other information in a
    proceeding before or ancillary to -
    (1) a court or grand jury of the United States,
    (2) an agency of the United States, or
    (3) either House of Congress, a joint committee of the two
    Houses, or a committee or a subcommittee of either House,

    and the person presiding over the proceeding communicates to the
    witness an order issued under this title, the witness may not
    refuse to comply with the order on the basis of his privilege
    against self-incrimination; but no testimony or other information
    compelled under the order (or any information directly or
    indirectly derived from such testimony or other information) may be
    used against the witness in any criminal case, except a prosecution
    for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to
    comply with the order.

    The blog above has been corrected.

    Al-Zarqawi is still dead.

    Today, the U.S. government released details of the autopsy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The conclusion reached is that he is not merely dead; he is most sincerely dead. Big Mitch had reached a similar conclusion based on examination of the photos of him, which were released in apparent violation of the Geneva Convention.

    One of al-Zarqawi’s last acts was to release a four-hour-long audiotape harangue against Shiites, saying militias are raping women and killing Sunnis and extorting his community to fight back.

    The tape — available on the Internet — was an attempt to sabotage the formation of a unity government. Al-Zarqawi clearly wanted to fan the flames of rising Shiite-Sunni tensions across the Arab world. Al-Zarqawi, accused the Shiites of having only loyalty to their “mother country,” Iran. Read more here.

    Iran is 98% Muslim, and 89% of the country adhere to the Shi’a branch of Islam, which is the official state religion.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, “It is natural that we, like the Iraqi people, are happy from this occurrence [i.e., the death of al-Zarqawi.] This doesn’t mean that we cooperated with the U.S. in getting him. We had no exchange of intelligence with the U.S. at all (on this).”

    Big Mitch says it sounds like the Iranians cooperated with the U.S. in getting him.

    According to the self-described “leading Arabic International Daily,” Asharq Alawsat:
    A high-ranking Iranian official has stressed that his country's influence is present in Iraq's current political situation in Iraq and that Iranian Intelligence have had a presence in Iraq since the era of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The official, who was speaking during a lunch banquet with a group of journalists, said that Iran has friends in Iraq, including President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and the parliament speaker.
    Why would the Iranians cooperate with the Americans rather than just take out al-Zarqawi themselves, or through their proxies in the Iraqi government? The Iraqis could not do the deed because the risk of provoking a more open civil war than the one they already have on their hands. Also, why should they? It is easier, neater, and less expensive to just pass along the targeting information to the Americans.

    For the Iranians they were faced with a win-win situation. First, the enemy of Shi’a Islam is dead as a mackeral. Second, there’s more blood on the American hands, making us even more unwelcome to the Sunnis sympathetic to the insurgency.

    Still, the idea of the Iranians voluntarily cooperating with the Americans, even through Iraqi intermediaries, is a tough one to swallow.

    Here’s a possibility. Suppose the Iranian’s cooperation was not voluntary. You may ask, what pressure could the American’s bring to bear in order to force the Iranians to cooperate in bringing al-Zaqawi to his well-deserved death? All I know is that the U.S. is exerting every possible kind of diplomatic pressure, up to and including the threat of invasion, on the Iranians. Nothing has been taken off the table, as Condi Rice would say.

    The Bush administration tells us that the diplomatic pressure on Iran is to force them to abandon a nuclear weapons program, and they are honorable men. How dare anyone suggest that men such as these would inflate the threat of a nuclear weapons program to advance some ulterior purpose?

    The best estimates indicate that the Iranians are ten years away from a nuclear weapon. I’m no expert, but I would think that a country with the oil revenues of Iran could go from a standing start to a nuclear weapon in less than a decade. Be that as it may, I simply cannot bring myself to believe that Bush, the devout millennialist, is concerned about what happens after he leaves office, much less a decade out. If he were, it would show up in his economic or environmental policies.

    It makes a person wonder. Is it possible that all the saber rattling with respect to Iran is simply for tactical reasons in Iraq? If so, it’s a pretty risky play. That’s another hallmark of King George the Incompetent and his minions.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    A scholar speaks of our predicament

    On C-Span today, I heard the show, Q and A, with guest Chalmers Johnson. His book Blowback won an American Book Award in 2001 from the Before Columbus Foundation. He discussed Sorrows of Empire, published in 2004, which updated the evidence and argument from Blowback for the post-9/11 environment.

    Here’s a quote for the record:
    I believe there is a real threat to the continuation of the republican form of government. That is what provides our democracy; what provides our civil liberties and by this we mean divided government. The impossibility of somebody becoming a dictator; being checks and balances, a balance of power; imperial presidency is a good term for it today and it’s out of control.
    You can read the entire transcript here or watch the show here.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    A new nadir of political discourse.

    On Chris Matthews’ show, Hardball, there is a regular weekly feature called HotShots, in which Matthews assembles three self-important mavens to discuss the week's events. Today, he had Tucker Carlson, Rita Cosby and Mike Barnicle as guests.

    Political discourse reached a new low tonight when Chris Matthews asked his three conservative talking heads, “Do you find Ann Coulter attractive?”

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Dear Mr. President,

    I am writing on behalf of Dr. Juan Ricardo Espinoza-Villarosa. Dr. Espinoza has been a pioneer in oncology, and he is widely credited with reducing the mortality rate of certain cancers by 70% in his native Honduras. For this achievement, he has received the highest recognition of the Ministry of Science.

    In addition to his accomplishments in the world of science, he has been a tireless advocate for the orphans and the poor in the capital city of Honduras. His work has led to the construction of orphanages throughout the capital district, completely paid for by private industry, where young people can learn a trade and achieve self-sufficiency. Mother Theresa wrote to Dr. Espinoza-Villarosa that his work “is a testament to the power of love, inspired by humility and the teachings of Christ.”

    Recently, he converted to Christianity, and as a result he has been ostracized in his predominantly Catholic community of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He believes that he could better continue his scientific work in the United States.

    The reason I am writing is that Dr. Espinoza-Villarosa would like to emigrate with his wife of forty years. Theresa Espinoza has never worked outside of the home, except for some volunteer work that she did with orphans during the start-up stage of the first Tegucigalpa Orphanage. She was most inspirational to the youngsters because she has overcome her deafness to become a great spokesperson for the under-privileged and disadvantaged.

    Naturally, Dr. Espinoza and his wife would like to become citizens of their adopted country. He is concerned that his wife may be disqualified because at this stage of her life it will be too difficult for her to learn to speak English.

    On June 6th, in Laredo, Texas, you indicated that citizenship should be reserved for those who speak English. All of this is background to my request: Would it be at all possible for you to exert your influence with Prime Minister Tony Blair to assist Dr. Espinoza-Villarosa and his wife relocate to England, where it is hoped they will be more welcomed?

    Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

    Very truly yours,

    Big Mitch

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    al-Zarqawi dead! British foreign secretary says: “targeted killings of this kind are unlawful and unjustified.”

    Big Mitch begs to differ. I say, Bravo Zulu* to the American Air Force for snuffing this murderous bastard.

    It pains me to say this because I am opposed to the death penalty. But this is war, and war is hell. People get killed. And who better than al-Zarqawi?

    So how could the British foreign secretary condemn flying warplanes and dropping bombs on terrorist leaders?

    Of course the British foreign secretary was not speaking of the death of al-Zarqawi. Rather, he was speaking of the targeted killings of two previous leaders of a group that the United States government recognizes as a terrorist organization, namely, Hamas.

    The British sentiment was shared by numerous human rights organizations. But it is not felicity for Hamas that animates the international condemnation of targeted killings. It was animosity to the government that performed those extra-judicial executions. Why? Because that government is the government of the Jewish state of Israel.

    Read Alan Dershowitz’s essay on the hypocrisy of this double standard here.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    * Bravo Zulu is a military expression that means “Well done!”

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Genius Bush? An update.

    Back on May 18th, I wrote in Bush is a genius? follows:
    If you give Bush and Turd-blossom credit for being the evil geniuses that I half-way suspect that they are, I have a theory for you.

    Rove and Bush figured out that immigrants are the new gays. By this, I mean, that bashing immigrants will do for the Republicans exactly what gay-bashing has done for them in the past. Largely meaningless gestures, designed to drive wedges between Americans, will energize the Republican base, and maybe even get them to forget how totally screwed up everything else is going.

    Here’s the beauty part: Republicans in Congress can run against Ted Kennedy and the President on this issue. What does Bush care? He's the guy who put new levels of lame into lame duck.

    Is it too Machiavellian for the guys in the White House? Probably. More likely, Turd-blossom is distracted because his baby-face is going to the Big House, and he's going to find out why they call it "the pokey."
    Maybe I was onto something.

    Here’s what Joe Scarborough had to say on Scarborough Country tonight regarding the contest in California’s 50th Congressional District, for the seat formerly held by convicted corrupt Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham:
    That bellwether election instead turned into a referendum against the president’s own immigration plan. Republican Brian Bilbray snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by actually attacking the president’s so called “amnesty plan” – that’s what he called it.
    The Republicans can hardly take solace in the results of that election. An inexperienced and weak candidate in an extremely conservative Republican district very nearly upset a former Republican congressman who outspent her 4:1.

    And she has a rematch coming up in November.

    Good luck, Francine Busby!

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    People are talking.

    Last evening, and again this morning, I was subjected to several replays of Ann Coulter’s statements in which she attacked people who disagree with her for daring to participate in political debate. Let me be clear about this: Ann Coulter is a venomous, evil, deceitful, bat-shit crazy, self-promoting sociopath. She is a hater. Anyone who heard her on the Today Show with Matt Lauer knows this.

    ’Nuff said.

    And yet, more will be said. She’s an easy target, and she represents the worst that is within the Republican Party. The worst within the Republican Party is some pretty ugly stuff. Why do Liberals self-flagellate with video clips of her? Is it because it makes us feel that we are better than her? Hell, I have garden slugs that are better than her!

    This morning during the umpteenth replay of her bizarre diatribe, my wonderful wife turned to me and said the very words that were on my mind, viz, “It’s working.” Coulter’s mendacious malignancy was getting her airtime. Airtime translates to book sales.

    The next news article was about the anti-Gay constitutional amendment, which went down to a well-deserved defeat. It never had a chance of success but the President had to support what, as I reported, Ted Kennedy called “bigotry, pure and simple.”

    Why did King George go out on a limb for this mean-spirited and ill-advised symbolic act? Maybe he was listening to Bob Dylan: “There’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all.” I don’t think so.

    The conventional wisdom is that Bush is doing so poorly – 1/3 of Americans think he is the worst President in the last 60 years – that he had to shore up his base. But as Robert Elisberg argues here, Bush could pretty much fling feces on the walls of the Oval Office, and his base still won’t desert him. I disagree with Elisberg that Bush doesn’t know this: in my view, Elisberg is misunderestimating Bush.

    Republicans seem to think that Hillary Clinton will be the next Democratic nominee for President. They are wrong, but it does illustrate the power of wishful thinking, otherwise known as self-delusion. Still, if that is the operating assumption of the G.O.P., do you imagine that they worry that their base will abandon them and run to Mrs. Clinton because the Republicans were weak on gay-bashing?

    So we come back to the question, why is Dubya spending his non-existent political capital on a doomed-from-the-start effort to write hatred into the Constitution? Because it’s working.

    The lead story on the half-hourly news update on Air America is that the Senate has again voted against passage of the Constitutional amendment prohibiting both gay marriage AND civil unions. That’s what we are talking about.

    What we are not talking about is the failure of the war in Iraq, or the lies that got us there. We’re not talking about the threats posed by Iran and Korea. We’re not talking about the fact that Palestinians have elected a terrorist organization to govern them. We’re not talking about how America’s prestige in the world has fallen so low. We’re not talking about deficits for as far as the eye can see, or national debt that is out of control.

    We’re not talking about the failure of Bush’s Medicare program. We’re not talking about the American Bar Association voting unanimously to investigate the illegality of Bush’s crossed-fingers “signing statements.” We are not talking about warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, or enormous data-mining operations, or the outright lying, to Congress and to the American people, that make these programs possible. We are not talking about the treasonous criminality of destroying the career of Valerie Plame Wilson.

    We’re not talking about the rising numbers of home foreclosures, or a major city being washed away because of cronyism and incompetence. We are not talking about the widening gap between rich and poor in this country, which threatens all of our institutions. We’re not talking about the Republican attack on science, which sets this country back in stem-cell research, in vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer, in education.

    We are not talking about Robert Kennedy’s serious allegations that the 2004 election was stolen. We’re not talking about the fact that the 2000 election was stolen, at least according to a guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize for monitoring elections in emerging democracies.

    We’re not talking about the fact that we’ve got maybe 10 years to turn things around or else the planet will become inhospitable to human life.

    Thank heavens the gay-bashing amendment was defeated, now twice, in the Senate. Now, we can get on with the important business facing America.

    Can we talk?

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    You want irony? Here’s a double dose!

    The President spoke today in support of an amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is advertised as an amendment in support of the sacred institution of marriage, but that is hogwash. It is, as Senator Ted Kennedy noted, “bigotry, pure and simple.”

    It is totally incomprehensible to me how homosexuals getting married does anything at all to threaten marriage. I just don’t get it. The argument can more easily be made that encouraging gays to come out of the closet by treating them with respect in a spirit of equality strengthens marriage in at least two ways.

    First, the habit of treating people with respect in a spirit of equality, if extended to hetero-sexual relationships, can only have a salutary effect on marriages.

    Second, many marriages are tragic charades because husbands and/or wives are secretly gay. Giving these people legitimate outlets to express their true selves can only save people from becoming emotionally entangled with people engaging in this impossible deception.

    It is important to realize that the proposed constitutional amendment not only outlaws gay marriage, it also outlaws civil unions. This aspect of the proposed amendment is not widely reported, and the reason is obvious. Not very many people give a damn about an arrangement that would allow one person, with the consent of another, to visit him or her in the ICU, or make decisions affecting end-of-life, and the like.

    You may ask, “Why does anyone give a damn?” I suppose that insurance companies stand to have their actuarial tables up-ended if benefits are more widely available, but I am just supposing. It has always struck me as strange that a country where the majority of voters are women can’t pass an Equal Rights Amendment, leading me to the conclusion that someone with a lot of money at stake was manipulating the process. Maybe something similar is happening here.

    Then there is the case to be made that right wing fundamentalists care about this more than anything else, and therefore, pandering to them is a means of activating Bush’s base supporters. “Base” in this context means “without moral principles, ignoble” rather than “core.”

    I think this strategy has been exposed, and is losing its effectiveness, especially since today there are revelations that Bush’s close friend says, “He doesn’t give a shit about gay marriage.”

    Interestingly, another source reports that Bush himself is gay or bisexual -- defined as having engaged in homosexual/bisexual adulterous behaviors with Victor Ashe, former mayor or Knoxville, Tennessee, who is now the ambassador to Poland. Leola McConnell, Liberal Democrat candidate for Governor of Nevada, claims to be an eyewitness to Dubya’s debauchery, and the woman described as a “41 year old woman currently residing in Las Vegas” in the above description of Bush’s walks on the wild side.

    You may say that this is rich in irony. In the immortal words of Ron Popeill, “But wait! There’s more!”

    Bush and Tony Snow have explained why this amendment is necessary. It is because, notwithstanding the will of the electorate, activist judges have declared civil unions to be a necessary concomitant with equal protection. “Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization, and it should not be redefined by activist judges,” King George said.

    Ah, the old activist judges canard! It was activist judges that struck down laws forbidding inter-racial marriages in the appropriately named case of Loving vs. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

    Doesn’t anybody remember? It was activist judges that overturned the will of the majority of Americans and installed that buffoon in the office of President of the United States!

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State

    This is a must read article: Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State By Allan Uthman, and posted on June 1, 2006. Follow the link to read his elaboration of each reason.
    Is the U.S. becoming a police state? Here are the top 10 signs that it may well be the case.

    1. The Internet Clampdown
    Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon …

    2. “The Long War”
    This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. … This short-lived moniker told us all, “get used to it. Things aren't going to change any time soon.”

    3. The USA PATRIOT Act
    Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? …

    4. Prison Camps
    This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified “new programs.” …

    5. Touchscreen Voting Machines
    Despite clear, copious evidence that these nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush's “Help America Vote Act,” the exploitation of corrupt elections officials, and the general public’s enduring cluelessness.

    6. Signing Statements
    Bush has famously never vetoed a bill. This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn't like with “signing statements.” Bush has issued over 700 such statements. …

    7. Warrantless Wiretapping
    Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens, without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that's okay? …
    Think about it: this administration hates unauthorized leaks. With no judicial oversight, why on earth wouldn’t they eavesdrop on, say, Seymour Hersh, to figure out who’s spilling the beans? It’s a no-brainer. Speaking of which, it bears repeating: terrorists already knew we would try to spy on them. They don’t care if we have a warrant or not. But you should.

    8. Free Speech Zones
    I know it’s old news, but... come on, are they fucking serious?

    9. High-ranking Whistleblowers
    Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials. NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. ... The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well better pay attention. …

    10. The CIA Shakeup
    Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. …
    If Bush’s nominee for CIA chief, Air Force General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, [as in fact, he was --Big Mitch]that will put every spy program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least neuter the CIA. …
    Remember the good old days, when the CIA were the bad guys?
    Go read the entire article.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”