Category Archives: politics

Justices: Gitmo detainees can challenge detention in U.S. courts – CNN.com

Justices: Gitmo detainees can challenge detention in U.S. courts – CNN.com

This is what we call an unalloyed piece of good, if LONG !@#$ OVERDUE, news. The Supreme Court has affirmed that those pesky rights and protections in the Constitution that some of us still think might be sorta, maybe, kinda important to apply equally to everyone, well, they even apply to people our government alleges have committed heinous crimes.

<Samuel L. Jackson>
THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, MOTHERF-CKERS — DID YOU READ IT?
</Samuel L. Jackson>

This is going to put a spring in my step all day. Sad comment that simply reaffirming rights that are unambiguously spelled out in our country’s founding documents can cheer me up like this, but there you go.

Also, as of this writing, CNN.com’s link for this story off their front page says “Gitmo detainees win round at Supreme Court.” I’m pretty sure that when you win a decision at the “Supreme” Court, that’s not just winning a “round.”

After all, what’s the government going to do? Come up with some other flimsy legal pretext to keep a bunch of detainees acquired under dubious circumstances from having private conversations with their lawyers, having the same access to evidence as their prosecution, or having any chance of seeing as fair and impartial a trial as America can provide before the next administration comes in to deal with the legal mess left behind by this one?

… Naaaaah.

But I’ll relish this small reminder that we might just live in a nation of laws after all.

Suspected terrorists and foreign fighters held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The decision marked another legal blow to the Bush administrations war on terrorism policies.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said the U.S. military lacks the legal autonomy to prosecute as many as 300 prisoners.

At issue were the rights of the detainees to contest their imprisonment as well as the rules established to try them in military tribunals.

A congressional law passed in 2006 would limit court jurisdiction to hear such challenges.

It is a legal question the justices have tackled three times since 2004, including Thursdays ruling.

Each time the high court ruled against the governments claim that it has the authority to hold people it labels “enemy combatants.”

McCain as Zelig

McCain Speech to Shed Light On Judicial Philosophy – WSJ.com

This is impressive, and a phenomenon I watched in the 2000 Republican primaries — people see a very likable John McCain and ascribe their own positions to him… which he tacitly encourages, I’m sure, by not talking about certain hot-button issues very much. Good on him for not holding 100% to any one orthodoxy, but I wonder how some of these positions will play out in the general, once more ads start flying around.

Emphasis mine.

On abortion, a number of people believe that Sen. McCain supports abortion rights. He doesn’t. At a town-hall meeting in March, he vowed: “I will continue my commitment to rights of the unborn so we can give every soul the chance to exist on this Earth.”

Yet nearly one in four women who support abortion rights and also support Sen. McCain believe that he shares their views, according to a Planned Parenthood Action Fund survey of women in 16 battleground states.

Planned Parenthood, which supports abortion rights, also found that about half of these supporters weren’t sure about Sen. McCains position. Just under 20% knew his stand on abortion but supported him anyway.

In fact, with the exception of fetal-tissue and stem-cell research, he has a long and consistent voting record opposing abortion. He supports sex-education programs that promote abstinence until marriage without any mention of contraception.

On gay rights, he opposes same-sex marriage and voted against employment nondiscrimination legislation. He supports the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military and opposes expanding the federal hate-crimes law to include sexual orientation.
But he also opposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, saying it violates states’ rights.

On gun rights, he opposed the assault-weapons ban and mandatory waiting periods. But he co-sponsored legislation requiring background checks at gun shows. The National Rifle Association was bitterly opposed to limits set in the campaign-finance legislation Sen. McCain spearheaded.

I miss Molly Ivins already.

CNN.com – Molly Ivins: Not. backing. Hillary. – Jan 20, 2006

Too few voices like hers, and now she’s gone. This column, from just over a year ago, could have been written last month.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

[…]

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy’s sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush’s tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do “whatever it takes” to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

[…]

Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long as you let them. I’ve said it before: War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds were “German dogs.” They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds. The MINUTE someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. That, or you could just piss on them elegantly, as Rep. John Murtha did. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless “string of bad news.”

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can’t get up and fight, we’ll find someone who can.

Matt Taibbi: The Idiocy Behind the ‘9/11 Truth’ Movement

AlterNet: The Idiocy Behind the ‘9/11 Truth’ Movement

I enjoy the heck out of Matt Taibbi, and this takedown of the “9/11 Truth” idea (that the Bush administration planned and executed the WTC explosions on 9/11) was a joy to read.

[…]

Whenever anyone chooses to dismiss 9/11 conspiracy theorists, accusations fly; the internet screams that you’ve aided and abetted George Bush. I disagree. To me, the 9/11 Truth movement is, itself, a classic example of the pathology of George Bush’s America. Bush has presided over a country that has become hopelessly divided into insoluble, paranoid tribes, one of which happens to be Bush’s own government. All of these tribes have things in common; they’re insular movements that construct their own reality by cherry-picking the evidence they like from the vast information marketplace, violently disbelieve in the humanity of those outside their ranks, and lavishly praise their own movement mediocrities as great thinkers and achievers. There are as many Thomas Paines in the 9/11 Truth movement as there are Isaac Newtons among the Intelligent Design crowd.

There’s not a whole lot of difference, psychologically, between Sean Hannity’s followers believing liberals to be the same as terrorists, and 9/11 Truthers believing even a the lowest soldier or rank-and-file FAA or NORAD official to be a cold-blooded mass murderer. In both cases you have to be far gone enough into your private world of silly tribal bullshit that the concept of “your fellow citizen” has ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. It may be that America has become too big and complicated for most people to deal with being part of. People are longing for a smaller, stupider reality. Some, like Bush, sell a prepackaged version. Others just make theirs up out of thin air. God help us.

Thought for the day

We prove ourselves citizens of a democracy not by our winning of elections but by our agreeing to lose elections. — Lewis H. Lapham

… They should teach this in grade school civics and not let anyone graduate until they really get it.

Hearing the news come in today and having watched politics for the last several years, it becomes crystal clear to me: the people who should be horsewhipped with a horsewhip (to borrow from The West Wing) are the people so convinced of the rightness of their cause as to think that the rules don’t apply to them, that they deserve to win elections, that dirty tricks and gerrymandering and voter suppression are somehow ok because they’re serving some higher good.

They utterly miss the point of what America is: a place where ideas have a chance of suceeding on their own merit, where loyal citizens can and will disagree about matters of importance, where one ostensibly gets a better chance at determining one’s own destiny than any other place on the planet. That’s what’s always made us magic, and that’s what recently the right wing seems to have forgotten: Everyone is guaranteed to have their voice heard. Nobody is guaranteed to win.

So making it more difficult for people to vote? Unamerican. Stacking the deck in your party’s favor? Unamerican. Refusing to endorse efforts to make voting utterly reliable, verifiable, and safe? As Unamerican as it gets. You back everyone’s right to speak, to vote, to be involved, because that’s what America is.

And it pisses me off that this sounds Pollyannaish and idealistic to my own ears.