Late on the night of Sept. 30, with the federal government just hours away from shutting down, House Republicans quietly made a small change to the House rules that blocked a potential avenue for ending the shutdown.
It went largely unnoticed at the time. But with the shutdown more than a week old and House Democrats searching for any legislative wiggle room to end it, the move looms large in retrospect in the minds of the minority party.
“What people don’t know is that they rigged the rules of the House to keep the government shut down,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, told TPM in an interview. “This is a blatant effort to make sure that the Senate bill did not come up for a vote.” …
Here’s the rule in question:
When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.
In other words, if the House and Senate are gridlocked as they were on the eve of the shutdown, any motion from any member to end that gridlock should be allowed to proceed. Like, for example, a motion to vote on the Senate bill. That’s how House Democrats read it.
But the House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule for this specific bill. They added language dictating that any motion “may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.”
So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.
“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.’”
Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.
“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.
Friday, October 11, 2013 7:57 pm
Sunday, October 6, 2013 1:41 pm
Commenter Christobal Juanes in John Burns’s feed on Facebook:
Man, you know what would really help restore confidence in the economy? Investors not having to worry that the US is going to default on its obligations every couple of months because a political minority that can’t accomplish its myopic, selfish goals through the traditional, constitutionally-designed process holds the economy hostage.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:49 pm
It’s now become accepted as normal that Republicans will threaten explicitly to allow harm to the country to get what they want, and will allow untold numbers of Americans to be hurt rather than even enter into negotiations over the sort of compromises that lie at the heart of basic governing.
In other words, Republicans feel free to violate their oaths of office without consequence, and Democrats are too timid to make an issue of it, let alone campaign on it. And here I thought America didn’t negotiate with terrorists.
Thursday, June 6, 2013 6:07 pm
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner: “As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation.”
Why now, Jim? Didn’t bother you 12 years ago. Didn’t bother you all through the Bush administration. If you had the sense God gave a billy goat and/or were awake in eighth-grade civics, not only wouldn’t you have written the Patriot Act, you’d have opposed it with all your resources and at the top of your lungs, you sorry sack of slime. Lots of very smart people, plus me, told you at the time that this was a wrong call and that it would, inevitably, be misused to justify flat-out crimes. You ignored us. Well, screw you. I hope the government scooped up all your calls and I desperately hope that evidence of a serious crime lies therein. You bent the Bill of Rights over your desk and raped it. The rest of your life in prison is too good for you.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:09 pm
… and it’s a damn good thing for some high-ranking Florida Republicans that I am not. For Pamela C. Marsh is the United States Attorney for the Northern Judicial District of Florida. And were I she, I would have begun convening a grand jury in Tallahassee this morning before my second cup of coffee:
A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.
Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory.
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Greer is now under indictment, accused of stealing $200,000 from the party through a phony campaign fundraising operation. He, in turn, has sued the party, saying GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.
“Jim Greer has been accused of criminal acts against this organization and anything he says has to be considered in that light,” says Brian Burgess, Florida GOP spokesman since September.
But Greer’s statements about the motivations for the party’s legislative efforts, implemented by a GOP-majority House and Senate in Tallahassee in 2011, are backed by Crist — also now on the outs with the party — and two veteran GOP campaign consultants.
Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal.
“In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.
Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.
In 2008 Democrats, especially African-Americans, turned out in unprecedented numbers for President Barack Obama, many of them casting ballots during 14 early voting days. In Palm Beach County, 61.2 percent of all early voting ballots were cast by Democrats that year, compared with 18.7 percent by Republicans.
(Memo to the Florida Republicans: Jim Greer might well be willing to say anything at all to keep his own butt of prison, assuming the charges against him are legitimate, which is by no means certain at this point. But your main beef with Charlie Crist seems to be that he’s not batshit enough for you. IANAL, but I think you’re gonna need more than that to impeach his testimony when you cross-examine him. And not only does Wayne Bertsch not appear to have an ax to grind, he appears to be writing off a lot of future business by coming forward.)
What would be at issue in this grand jury investigation? Well, its formal title would be Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 13, subsections 241 and 242 of the United States Code:
UNITED STATES CODE
TITLE 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I – CRIMES
CHAPTER 13 – CIVIL RIGHTS
§ 241. Conspiracy against rights
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured -
They shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results, they shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
§ 242. Deprivation of rights under color of law
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such inhabitant being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
Within my lifetime, people of all races and creeds have died in the United States seeking, or trying to protect, the right to vote, and these smart-ass Republican white boys think it’s all a goddamn game. Of course, to them it is all a game. And it will stay that way until they spend a year or 10 in prison and cough up five-figure fines and six-figure legal fees.
As I’ve said before, the evidence strongly suggests that the death penalty is not a deterrent to homicide, even though the likelihood of being caught and punished is pretty high, because homicide is a crime frequently committed in the heat of the moment. But this? This is planned, rational, willful, intentional and cold-blooded. And that is exactly the kind of behavior that harsh penalties combined with the likelihood of being caught and punished will deter.
So were I Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern Judicial District of Florida, I would not wait around for my worthless boss, Eric Holder, to get his thumbs out of his rear end and give me the OK or shoot an email to the Civil Rights Division. I’d do my job prosecuting conspiracies against civil rights in northern Florida and dare Holder, an African American, and his boss, the president, also an African American, to do anything about it. Holder might; after all, Karl Rove did something very similar and was never charged. But my guess is that once that investigation started, even Holder wouldn’t be idiotic enough to try to stop it. And the U.S. would be a tiny step farther down the still-very-long road toward the equal protection under the law that we wrote into the Constitution a century and a half ago.
Saturday, November 3, 2012 7:43 pm
I honestly don’t know who’s going to win the presidential election on Tuesday. The New York Times’s much-praised and much maligned Nate Silver gives Obama something like an 80 percent chance, but as Silver himself will tell you, that’s probability only and the other 20 percent — i.e., Romney’s chances — is not trivial.
But I think that the Republicans think they know who’s going to win on Tuesday, and they’re acting like they’re pretty sure it’s not their guy. Consider:
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott — who, in a nation governed by the rule of law, would have gone to prison for defrauding the government during his previous life as CEO of a for-profit health concern — has tried as hard as he can to limit and harass early voting in Florida. I’m sure the fact that early voters there — as in most of the rest of the country — are predominantly Democratic has nothing to do with it.
- Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who already has gotten in trouble with the federal courts over his messing around with voting, has imposed new rules that essentially require the voter to act as his own elections official or else his vote won’t count. Voting rights activists sued last
namenight, claiming that Husted’s action violates a previous court order, statements by Husted’s own attorneys and Ohio state law as well. Were I the judge in the previous case, I’d have had his ass in jail on a 6-month contempt-of-court sentence before the sun set today, because this is exactly the kind of behavior that contempt-of-court citations — and impeachments — were created to address.
And that’s just government. Here in the Republican-exalted private sector, things are even peachier for representative democracy:
WASHINGTON — The Mitt Romney campaign and its business allies are driving home a final message unlike one we’ve seen in past presidential campaigns: Vote Romney, or you’re fired.
The pressure on workers in swing states to toe the GOP line hasn’t been restricted to any particular industry. Corporate apparel makers in Ohio, truck stop attendants in Ohio and Virginia, casino employees in Nevada, construction workers in Florida, gift-card purveyors in Colorado and Florida, car-parts makers in Michigan, software technicians in Florida and Colorado, coal miners in Ohio, dock manufacturers in Wisconsin, frozen-food packers in Michigan, resort staff in Florida, Virginia and Nevada, and people all over the country who work — or used to work — for Koch Industries or another Koch-owned company have all been given notice by their boss that an Obama victory could lead to layoffs or otherwise harm the company and its workers.
Even workers who’d already been laid off by the Kochs were mailed letters urging them to vote Republican or else “suffer the consequences” of Obama policies that would harm the company.
Romney himself urged conservative business leaders this June to “make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections.”
Before the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision, it would have been illegal for a boss to tell an employee that “their job and their future” was on the ballot on Election Day. But the court now considers such electoral pressure an expression of free speech.
A few observations and opinions:
As I said earlier, this is not the behavior of a party that expects to win on the merits.
More particularly, if you have to engage in conspiracy to deny American voters their civil rights — which carries up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine, Rick Scott and Jon Husted — you’re not only acting like you don’t expect to win, you’re acting like you don’t want to be an American anymore. Well, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, because keeping legal voters from voting is about as un-American as it gets.
Americans let the GOP steal the election in 2000, and by a large majority, they think we got the worst president in modern times out of that deal. I doubt they’ll be so willing to let it happen again, particularly when, as is the case this time, it’s so blatant and out in the open.
And finally, for the moron CEOs who are threatening their employees if they don’t vote for Romney — despite the fact that under Obama they’ve posted record profits, amassed record cash reserves, watched the Dow double since this president took office, avoided any punishment for blowing up the whole economy in 2008 AND enjoyed the lowest top marginal income tax rates and corporate income tax rates since the Korean freakin’ War and the greatest income inequality since the days of Jay and Daisy — here’s our response to you:
- We already had the feudalism-vs.-democracy argument. In 1776. Your side lost. Get the hell over it.
- The U.S. abolished peonage a long time ago. Get the hell over it.
- WE ARE AMERICANS. WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS.
Monday, July 9, 2012 8:55 pm
Tom Levenson of Balloon Juice datelines his post from the Lion Gate of Mycenae, where no little bloodletting began and ended (internal links copied from elsewhere in Tom’s post for clarity):
Wars are not Homeric poems, which is something Homer himself clearly understood, if Odysseus’s conversations with the heroes who preceded him into Hades offer any hint. They wreck people, and not simply those who are obviously war’s casualties. I’m not going to belabor that thought in this forum, because so many here know this as well or better than I.
So: idiots will be with us always, and two otherwise utterly inconsequential folks like Messrs. Nicholson and Davis—barely public figures at all—aren’t worth the spit it would take to express my true opinion.
No: what matters is that this kind of talk can’t take place without the tacit permission of actual leaders—informal ones, like Limbaugh, and the actual political actors on the right, figures like Boehner, McConnell, Cohen, Ryan, McCain, whoever. First among them, of course, is the man who would be president, Mitt Romney.
Leaders shape the frame of argument. They delineate the forms of dissent and opposition. They define, both by what they say and by what they fail to rule out, whether we have a small “r” republican approach to government, or rule by the manipulators of the manipulated mob. When they stay silent they are the cowards of the headline, passive bystanders as their followers betray the basic principles of (small “d”) democratic politics.
Greece is a good place from which to think about this. You don’t have to go back to Agamemnon or to Plato; living memory—the civil war, the colonels, very recent memory indeed offer regular reminders of the fragility of government by consent of the governed. Words matter here, and have for millennia.
So it is in this place, with that history in mind, that I am reminded once again that the habit of dismissing crap like that spewed by Nicholson and Davis as wingnuts being wingnuts is not acceptable. The speakers themselves may not count for much, but for a nominally civil society to allow such speech to pass without massive retaliation, actual leadership from those who would lead from that side…well, that’s how individuals get hurt, and democracies die. It’s happened before, not many miles from where I sit as I write this.
But … but … but … Rev. Wright!!111!!1eleventy
Friday, July 6, 2012 9:15 pm
I’ve got tons of homework to do in a houseful of boxes, so take it away, Charlie Pierce:
It was about midway through the completely predictable impeachment of Bill Clinton when I decided that the most fundamentally obsolete question that could be asked concerning anything in American politics any more was, “They really couldn’t do that, could they?” This has held me in good stead ever since, especially while observing the behavior of conservative lawmakers. I watched the entire country turn against them in public revulsion during the prolonged Terri Schiavo fiasco and knew good and well that they were going to chase that “issue” right over the cliff. So, as this whole pursuit of Eric Holder has gathered speed, I had no doubt in my mind at all that, sooner or later, he was going to be the first cabinet official ever held in contempt of Congress, and that it didn’t matter that the cheapjack grifter Darrell Issa already has said he doesn’t think that any crimes were committed, or that the White House was in any way involved, or that Fortune magazine pretty much blew up the raison d’etre for the whole business over the weekend. I just assumed, based on long experience, that, once they opened the ball on Eric Holder, they weren’t going to stop until they got at least a piece of what they wanted. This isn’t because they’re reckless partisans. It’s because they’re f—ing vandals who have the votes. …
Out in front of the capitol, assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn had just finished saying, “This is not about oversight. This is about overkill. This is about this committee honoring its precedent of what happens no matter which Republican is chairing it. This is Dan Burton, who was going after Ron Brown because of stuff he made up. Now it’s Chairman Issa, going after Attorney General Holder over stuff he made up.”
You will note that Clyburn didn’t cite Bill Clinton, Burton’s major target back in the day, but the late Ron Brown, another African-American cabinet member. Clyburn’s meaning could not have been clearer.
Because Barack Obama got elected president, see, so we live in a postracial society and nothing is about race anymore.
Here at this end of the I-85/95 corridor, I had hoped Pat McCrory might be different. But his determination to continue working for a politically connected law firm — not as a lawyer, mind — for what seems like an awful lot of money for a nonlawyer job and without telling us what he’s doing for that money, stinks to high heaven. And the more I hear of him, the less likely I think he is to even try to stand up to the sociopaths in the legislature who couldn’t be bothered to compensate the people we illegally castrated not so horribly long ago (and that, of course, was not about race, either), let alone push policies that really will enhance the general welfare. Even if he isn’t a fundamentalist whackjob — and I realize this may come as a shock to some folks from outside North Carolina, but not all Republicans here are — he probably is going to support the decades-old campaign by the GOP to transfer and concentrate wealth upward. That’s brought us double-digit unemployment nationally, even more so here in the Old North State, and that shit has to stop.
Monday, June 18, 2012 8:19 pm
At least at first glance, President Obama’s executive order on immigration appears to be 1) constitutional, 2) well within the scope of precedent with respect to White House executive orders, 3) humane and 4) quite possibly a good idea.
This has not prevented some people from complaining about it. I’m willing to be convinced it’s wrong and even unconstitutional if someone can come up with the right evidence. What I’m not willing to do is be lectured by the fact-challenged, torturerotic Wansee groupie John Yoo:
President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law. He is laying claim to presidential power that goes even beyond that claimed by the Bush administration, in which I served. There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).
Yoo’s own theories on the plenary executive are phenomenally daft, but claiming that the President has the authority to declare unending bloody war on tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan citizens but doesn’t have the authority to direct enforcement procedures of executive branch agencies is so absolutely douchetronic that Yoo probably needs to waterboard himself for a while just to balance the scales of the universe.
And, finally, Yoo demonstrates not only his ethical illiteracy and constitutional ignorance, but also a fundamental inability to count.
So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices.
The federal law in question was the DREAM Act, a congressional policy choice that passed the House and was filibustered in the Senate despite getting a 55-vote majority. In the Framers’ day, numbers like that meant it could become law if the president signed it or declined to veto it. But that fact doesn’t prevent Yoo from lying, once again, about the Framers:
That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.
Bitch, please. Google “Bush signing statements” and then pull your head out of your rear end and get on the first airplane to The Hague — preferably in irons.
Friday, February 10, 2012 7:20 pm
If you’re a regular reader, you know how I feel about voting and the bogus “voter fraud” spectre being raised by the GOP. I’ve argued, to varying degrees of belief on the part of my readers, that the real problem isn’t voter fraud — that is, someone casting a vote he is not legally entitled to cast, by virtue of his not residing where he votes or by virtue (?) of his posing as an existing eligible voter or by virtue of using an entirely fictitious identity.
Rather, I’ve argued, the real problem is that the Republican Party, apparently believing it cannot win an honest election, is doing everything it can to prevent legally eligible voters from voting, using “voter fraud” as an excuse for measures, such as requiring photo I.D. (an unconstitutional poll tax under another name, as more than one court has found), that it knows will make voting harder for certain large populations — the elderly, very young adults, racial and ethnic minorities, those who do not or cannot drive, and ex-felons — who tend to vote disproportionately for Democrats.
It’s an anti-get-out-the-vote campaign. It’s illegal and it’s unconstitutional (and arguably a federal crime), but the Republican Party and a good bit of our mainstream media are treating it as simply one more debatable notion in the era of postmodern law and politics.
Unfortunately, here in the real world, facts still matter, valid data still matter. And David Rothschild, an economist for Yahoo! Research (and, boy, doesn’t the phrase “an economist for Yahoo! Research” tell you how much the world has changed) with a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business, tells us that those data show that Republicans, on this issue as on so many others, are full of crap:
Based on the most conservative estimates, then, we can estimate that voter ID laws could disenfranchise between 10,000-500,000 eligible voters for every 1-100 blocked fraudulent votes. Here’s how I get there:
It may seem like a government-issued photo ID isn’t so much to ask to cast a vote—after all, you need one to drive, get on a plane, or have a beer. The fact is that many eligible voters do not have the right documents under new or proposed laws. The right-wing Heritage Foundation trumpets a paper that claims that only 1.2% registered voters lack valid a photo ID. That may seem low, but nearly 130 million votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election, so that would translate into roughly 1,560,000 voters. The Heritage Foundation’s estimate is the lowest I could find. In 2007, the Georgia Secretary of State estimated 198,000 registered voters there did not have government issued photo IDs and in South Carolina, 200,000 registered voters do not have a photo ID that would be valid for voting under the proposed law, according to the state election commission. That translates into roughly 4-5 percent of voters for Georgia and 8-10 percent of voters for South Carolina, based on 2008 registration and vote totals.
Those eligible citizens who do not have a photo ID tend towards the more disenfranchised citizens:25% of African-Americans have no photo ID, 15% of people earning less than $35,000 have no photo ID, and 18% of the elderly have no photo ID. This represents millions of citizens in each category. Such laws also penalize college students since many of these laws require in-state photo IDs, which prevents college students from voting at their college if they attend from out-of-state.
Voter ID laws do not stop people who have fraudulently registered as themselves. The vast majority of these cases are people who believed themselves to be eligible, notably felons that do not know they are ineligible to vote in a given state. States that bar felons, such as Florida, have traditionally been so vigilant in blocking felons that thousands of eligible voters have been inadvertently purged from the voter rolls in the state’s fixation to ensure that felons do not vote. Nor would these laws stop non-citizens from voting as themselves. (Even so, investigations have found voting by non-citizens to be extremely rare; a study of 370,000 votes cast in Milwaukee from 1992-2000 showed 4 votes by non-citizens.)
The main voter fraud that photo IDs would stop, then, is that of a person voting in lieu of another registered voter; this is likely someone who has died, as it is otherwise hard to estimate when a live registered voter will not be voting. Again, studies have shown very few votes by dead people in recent election cycles; this study by the FBI showed that all 89 dead voters in a Maryland election died after they voted. Many other presumed dead voters are caused by clerical errors on death certificates.
So here’s the question: if the most conservative estimates are correct and 10,000 eligible voters are disenfranchised so that 100 non-eligible votes can be stopped, do you think that that is a fair deal for democracy?
That’s a good question. Let’s rephrase it:
So here’s the question: if the most conservative estimates are correct and 10,000 innocent people are executed so that 100 murderers can be stopped from getting off scot-free, do you think that that is a fair deal for democracy?
But wait, you say, voting and murder aren’t the same thing, and not getting to vote isn’t like being wrongly executed!
In terms of the consequences, of course, that’s absolutely correct.
But in America, we consider the right to life, absent due judicial process, to be fundamental and absolute. Guess what? We think exactly the same thing of the right to vote. Just as Americans have died over the centuries to protect their fellow citizens’ lives, so, too, have Americans died — and not just in the Jim Crow South — to protect the rights of their fellow citizens to vote. The right to vote is a Big Damn Deal and the closest thing to settled law, outside the realm of life and death, that this country has. Indeed, given our constitutional transgressions post-9/11, you could argue it is the most settled point of constitutional law.
So why are the Republicans doing what they’re doing, besides the tactical fact that if everyone who is eligible to vote does so, they’re going to lose a lot more than they’re going to win?
Because, philosophically, Republicans who support these voter-suppression efforts do not believe that every citizen has the right to vote. And whatever else you want to call that belief, you need to call it what it is: un-American.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 8:43 pm
… is that they’re trying to change the subject to ACORN, an organization that 1) was never found to have done anything illegal and 2) has been out of business for more than six months.
They’ve been busted, and they’re hoping desperately that you’re not paying attention.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 8:18 pm
Hostage-taking is an act of terrorism. If you don’t want to be called a terrorist, don’t farking act like one.
Thus endeth the lesson.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:56 pm
UPDATE 10/21: Oh, we’re havin’ some fun now. (My idea; DivaGeek’s execution.)
* * *
Which of the two subjects above knows more about the Constitution?
A) The subject on the left.
B) The subject on the right.
C) Neither knows a damn thing about it.
D) Neither knows a damn thing about it and there’s a better-than-even chance that both of them pee on it.
As I reTweeted earlier, the problem here isn’t that Christine O’Donnell doesn’t know a damn thing about the First Amendment, although that is, indeed, a problem, at least in Delaware and at least for the moment.
No, the problem is that the entire freaking right wing, including more of the Tea Party than its backers want to admit, believes the same damn thing. O’Donnell is just a random example drawn from a pool tens of millions of Americans deep. These people hate America. They want this country to be a Christianist theocracy. And some of them are in positions of real power, influence and responsibility. I like to find humor in things, but I don’t find that especially funny.
(Photo[shop] credit: DivaGeek)
Saturday, September 25, 2010 5:55 pm
As blogging goes, I have been slackeriffic of late, so let’s see what I can do to get caught up here.
- America: It was a good idea: The “most liberal appeals court in the country,” the 9th Circuit, says the government can kidnap you and send you somewhere else to be tortured, and if the government wants to claim that that’s a state secret, it can and there’s nothing you can do about it. And here’s one thing liberals and conservatives should be able to agree on: If a government has a power, it will use it.
Damn. Maybe I should just stop now.
Ah, well, like the man said, I can’t go on. I’ll go on.
- But we’re not giving it up without a fight: Barack Obama believes he has the power to order American citizens executed without charge or trial. The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights are fighting that.
- Some of America’s greatest leaders? Would be considered terrorists today.
- They’re everywhere: Government at multiple levels in this country is blurring the distinction between dissent and terrorism. In Pennsylvania, where activists are opposing new oil drilling (entirely understandable, if not ultimately a good idea, in the wake of Deepwater Horizon), opponents are being monitored by the state Department of Homeland Security, and when the governor was asked about it, he at first defended the program.
- And it ain’t just government: Monsanto hired Blackwater to monitor activists who oppose genetically modified seeds, despite the risks they pose.
- Double standard: When the Democrats nominate someone who’s insane for the U.S. Senate, they disown him. When the Republicans do it, they embrace her and give her lots of money.
- But, no, we’re not racists: The National Federation of Republican Women has Sen. Glenn McConnell attend dressed in a Confederate Army uniform and pose with African Americans dressed as slaves. In 2010. For reals.
- Enthusiasm gap: If Democrats and the White House wonder why their base is so much less motivated to turn out in November than the GOP base, they might consider issues such as this and conclude that warning against “the return of George W. Bush” is pretty pointless when you’re going Bush one better.
- In deep: How could the Deepwater Horizon disaster happen? When Interior Department regulators are being bullied by the industry they oversee and undercut by their managers, I’d say anything is possible.
- Risk assessment: Emptywheel poses a very good question: Is the greatest danger to our financial system really terrorism?
- Well, at least he’s honest: U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R- Okla., tells the American people to, quite literally, eat shit.
- Scheduling an election is not rocket science. So would it be too much to ask that states get ballots to troops overseas in time for those ballots to be cast? Sheesh. (h/t: Fred)
- Questions of ownership: GMAC, one of the nation’s largest home-financing firms, tries to foreclose on a home whose mortgage has been resold only for a judge to conclude, quite reasonably, that, hell, no, it can’t foreclose on something it doesn’t own; further investigation suggests GMAC may be executing 10,000 fake documents a month related to mortgages. As a result, GMAC foreclosures are on hold in 23 states. But the real fun, not obvious at first glance, is that dealing with this issue is going to make it harder for a lot of insolvent banks to hide the fact that they’re insolvent.
- Maybe somebody should have shot the deputy: Charlie Munger, populist billionaire Warren Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway, recently suggested that America’s unemployed and underemployed should “just suck it in” and added, “Thank God for bank bailouts.” Why would he say such a thing when BH took no bailout money? Uh, because companies in which BH is invested took $95 billion, maybe?
- You will know him by his trail of dead: Howard Fineman, one of the most relentlessly conventional journalists in American history — and, therefore, a guy who has whiffed on most of the significant political stories of the past 15 or so years — is deserting the sinking ship at Newsweek to go work for the Huffington Post. Conservatives everywhere should be of good cheer; if he does there what he did at Newsweek, HuffPo will be dead inside of three years.
- Who broke the Senate?: Something called “Gingrich senators.” That’s a very short way of describing what is actually a pretty well-documented phenomenon.
- Apparently we need another war on poverty. Sigh.
- Fight the police state: Reason magazine offers tips on how.
- The Washington Post’s problems in just three words: It. Can’t. Think.
- Funniest line ever posted at PowerLine, by Paul Mirengoff on Christine O’Donnell: “It’s great to hear that O’Donnell learned from her experiences dabbling in witchcraft. You wouldn’t want a U.S. Senator who dabbled in witchcraft and learned nothing from it.” Heh. Indeed.
- Genetically, we’re not only close to apes, we’re pretty close to jackals: Nancy Nall on scrapping, physical and financial.
- Corruption in Afghanistan: Not that big a deal after all, the administration decides.
- When was the last economic recovery that WASN’T jobless?: Oh, about 20 years ago.
- Question for everyone who still believes in “the liberal media”: What do you think would happen if DEMOCRATS had filibustered a defense appropriations bill? And, naturally, John McCain lied about the reasons for it.
- He is the egg man: Austin “Jack” DeCoster, whose company was implicated in the recent problem with salmonella-tainted eggs, may have been the guy responsible for introducing salmonella into the U.S. egg supply in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
- Larry Summers gone: The problem is, unless his replacement is named Warren, Krugman, Bakker Baker, Shiller or DeLong, we’re going to have the same problems we have now.
- Fannie and Freddie weren’t the ones who broke the economy: So said Barry Ritholtz a while back; so says the FHFA now.
- Alternatives to bank bailouts: Let me show u them. We did, in fact, have some, which is worth remembering two years on.
- Chain of command: I’ve got little but contempt for Bob Woodward’s “reporting” these days, but if he has accurately reported that Gen. David Petraeus told colleagues that President Obama “is f—ing with the wrong guy,” then Obama should fire Petraeus and thank Woodward for bringing that insubordination to his attention.
- The Tea Party isn’t just about deficits and taxes and spending: Whether it started out this way or not, it is rapidly being taken over, if it has not already been, by the Christian Taliban. (More here.) Despite already having called for Obama’s impeachment, I’m not under any illusions about what else is going to happen next year if the GOP regains control of Congress in November. Nobody else should be, either.
- Kidding themselves: Even such normally sensible outlets as Zero Hedge are buying into this silly-assed notion that businesses aren’t hiring because of an “atmosphere of uncertainty.” No. There’s always uncertainty in the business world, not least every election year. The problem this time isn’t uncertainty, it’s that no one is buying anything because no one has any money because they’re in debt up to their eyeballs, unemployment/underemployment is at its highest level in three-quarters of a century and even the people who have jobs are afraid they’re going to lose them. Moreover, consumers are afraid, probably with good reason, that things will get worse before they get better.
- Stop the presses!: The new version of the GOP Contract on America was written by a former lobbyist for Exxon and AIG.
- Pre-emptive strike: Is a newly discovered super computer virus the means by which Iran’s nuclear threat will be nullified? And did the virus originate in Israel?
- Apparently neither a joke nor an urban legend: Good news, ladies! Having unprotected sex, although it can put you at increased risk of sexually transmitted disease if you’re not really careful and picky and can, of course, get you pregnant, also can render you significantly less likely than your latex-dependent friends AND your chaste friends to suffer from depression. And there’s actually a chemical reason for this!
- Even Napoleon thought the third time was enemy action: Glenn Fine, inspector general of the U.S. Justice Department, expects us to believe that three separate FBI investigative efforts of the Thomas Merton Center’s anti-war activities during the Bush administration were isolated, coincidental and in no way politically motivated. He also expects us to believe in unicorns, too, I guess.
- On the road to recovery: Uh, not so much, says well-known liberal Paul Volcker.
- Here’s the thing about Republican congresscritters and stimulus spending: The most offensive thing isn’t that they’re hypocrites for criticizing the program while still trying to land some of its money for their districts. It’s that they’re lying when they say it doesn’t work.
- Good news, bad news, Internet edition: Radio spectrum being abandoned by TV as it moves to hi-def could be made available for next-generation WiFi at little cost to the public or, in the alternative, be auctioned off for that purpose at huge benefit to the Treasury. But that’s not going to happen.
- I want to play Roy Blount in poker: The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri challenged Democratic opponent Robin Carnahan to six debates … and then backed out of four of them after she took him up on it.
Monday, September 6, 2010 9:46 pm
There may be plenty, but they haven’t been nearly as busy as their counterparts:
Eric Rudolph: Four bombs, two dead, 110 wounded. Motivated by hatred of abortion and homosexuality. Conservative response (Cliff Kincaid): He’s not a “Christian terrorist,” he’s a “doper.” Marijuana bad!
Scott Roeder: Shoots abortion doctor George Tiller in the head in front of his church. Motivated by hatred of abortion, subscribed to magazine which called killing abortion practitioners “justifiable homicide,” received operational support from senior Operation Rescue staffer. Conservative response (Randall Terry): He’s a lone wolf, not my fault, but Tiller totally had it coming.
James Von Brunn: Shoots Holocaust Museum guard to death. White supremacist and Holocaust denier. Conservative response (Holocaust denier Mark Weber): Don’t blame me for the actions of crazy people! The Holocaust Museum is a historically inaccurate “expression of the enormous power of the Jewish community,” but I would never condone violence against it!
Byron Williams: Taken down in shootout with cops on his way to “start a revolution by… killing people of importance” at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation, the latter of which is featured prominently in Glenn Beck’s abundant conspiracy diagrams. Conservative response (Beck and his producer): “Liberal blogs” are unfairly blaming us, we can’t be responsible for every crazy person who watches the show, and the Tides Foundation is still the Antichrist.
Hutaree Militia: Arrested for plotting to murder a cop and then blow up his funeral. Self-described “Christian warriors,” “Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.” Conservative response (Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch): This is a dream come true for the Islam-coddling Left! And why don’t we ever see quotes from Christian leaders protesting that Christianity is a religion of peace after Christian terrorists are caught or go off? If the Hutaree even are Christians…
Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman: White supremacist skinheads arrested for bizarre plot to kill 88 black people and get themselves killed while trying to drive-by President Obama while wearing white tuxedos.
Richard Poplawski: Ambushes and kills three cops, apparently out of fear that Obama would take his guns away. He’s a big fan of conspiracy nut Alex Jones, as is Fox News, apparently. Conservative response (Noel Sheppard, Newsbusters): He was just an angry crazy person, the liberals want to pin this on the courageous conservative truthtellers so they can silence us! Fight the power!
Jim Adkisson: Kills two and wounds six in a killing spree in a Unitarian church during performance of a children’s musical, “because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country… had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and… had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets” – oh, and it was liberals’ fault that he couldn’t find a job. Police find books by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage in his house. Conservative response (Free Republic): Too bad the liberal secular humanist hippies didn’t have guns, now they’re going to Hell because they’re not real Christians.
Jerry and Joseph Kane: Father and teenage son shoot two Arkansas cops to death. Members of right-wing “sovereign citizen” movement who refuse to recognize any government authority.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 9:01 pm
A Fox News military analyst, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, has come out as a Birther, having signed an affidavit in support of Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, who is resisting an order to deploy to Afghanistan because he doesn’t believe Obama is a natural-born citizen of the U.S. and therefore is constitutionally ineligible to serve as president and commander-in-chief.
McInerney’s affidavit says in part,
Our military MUST have confidence their Commander in Chief lawfully holds his office and absent which confidence grievous consequences may ensue.
That’s awfully precious, inasmuch as the commander-in-chief who actually launched that war did not lawfully hold the office at the time, but all the Very Serious People said we had to allow a judicial overthrow of the government or else the terrorists would win. I bet the countries with actual free presses are laughing their behinds off.
Monday, August 9, 2010 7:44 pm
Apparently, it’s now OK to threaten 15-year-olds with prison rape to get them to confess to crimes. Not only that, apparently you don’t have to tell someone how long his prison sentence is until the day he’s released. And as if that’s not enough fun, we now have the U.S. government arguing that attacking a (U.S.) soldier in uniform during a war is a war crime but torture is not.
I only wish I were making this up.
This is illegal, unconstitutional, wrong, evil and un-American, and it is Barack Obama, not George W. Bush, who is making it happen. So how’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
Monday, July 5, 2010 12:23 am
When, like Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, you stop giving a damn about cops who tortured people, it’s time to turn in your journalist human being card.
Chicago Tribune, just die already. Comments Athenae: “If you want to know what’s killing interest in commentary from American newspapers and magazines, it’s this. Not that they’re liberal or conservative, that they’re empty.”
Sunday, June 27, 2010 10:33 pm
Find out what Joe Lieberman wants to do, and then do the exact opposite. For example, Joe thinks giving the president of the United States a kill switch for the Internet would be just peachy! And why?
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.
John Cole of Balloon Juice: “The military is supposed to be a weapon used when diplomatic policies fail, not a political wing of the national security state.”
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 10:40 pm
… looks like I was more right than I knew.
I snarked that there was no way the copper, gold, lithium, etc., supposedly in Afghanistan was “newly discovered.” But what I didn’t think about was why The New York Times might pimp a decades-old story now.
Because the war in Afghanistan is shaping up as a failure and our deadline for withdrawing arrives within a year. Duh:
… guaranteed U.S. access to ”strategic reserves” of “strategic minerals”, where possession is nine tenths of the game and the resources are just as valuable still in the ground as mined and processed for market, is a heady brew to mostly-hawkish senior policymakers and Very Serious think-tankers, especially if the end of the sentence goes “and China doesn’t get them.” [New York Times reporter James] Risen’s stenography isn’t aimed at us, but at them and will be used to add some geopolitical weight to the arguments McChrystal and others are already beginning to make as to why they should be allowed to break their promise to Obama and the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan a few years longer.
The people jumping up and down, screaming, “We’ve got to DO something before the ChiNEEEEESE get all the precious!” are some of the same people who lied us into a war. Of course they would pull a stunt like this, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t jump immediately to that conclusion or one very much like it.
UPDATE: Oh, for crying out loud, Risen even admits it:
“Several months ago, Milt [former CIA officer Milt Bearden, who was active in Afghanistan in the 1980s] started telling me about what they were finding,” Risen said. “At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to do a story on it.” At first both Bearden and Brinkley [Paul Brinkley, a deputy undersecretary of defense charged with rebuilding the Afghan economy, with whom Bearden is now working] resisted, Risen said, but he eventually wore them down. “Milt convinced Brinkley to talk to me,” he said, “and Brinkley convinced other Pentagon officials to go on the record. I think Milt realized that things were going so badly in Afghanistan that people would be willing to talk about this.”
Memo to the New York Times ombudsman: Having a Times staff writer pimping an exploitative pro-war policy (which, by the way, would violate a military agreement between the U.S. and another sovereign nation) to the Very Serious People of Washington is a wee bit of an ethics problem. Particularly when that war is going badly. Just sayin’.
… and while I was looking elsewhere, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that it’s now constitutional to kidnap people and torture them. This was in the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian whom we shipped to Syria to be tortured, which was great except that he was, um, well, innocent.
Oh, but we apologized. So that’s good.
Remember that crap the next time anyone whines at you about judicial activism, because I sure as hell don’t remember voting for anyone who wanted to repeal the Fifth Amendment or the Torture Victim Protection Act.
Saturday, June 12, 2010 11:06 pm
… and I’m pretty sure that this constitutes taking up arms against the government.
Hang him. It’s the 21st century, and I am beyond tired of coddling criminals.
Friday, June 4, 2010 9:36 pm
Because if you let them get away with it once, they’ll do it even worse next time.
President George W. Bush argued that the Authorization for Use of Military Force of September 2001 empowered him to take military action against those responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks. Now Obama is arguing that that same act of Congress empowers him to have assassinated even people who had nothing to do with 9/11.
Memo to the president: When even your predecessor’s lawyers are all, “Wait, you’re doing what?“, you might want to rethink your position.
Thursday, June 3, 2010 10:15 pm
TO: John “Assrocket” Hinderaker, PowerLine
Dude: Why do you hate the Constitution?
News flash: You don’t get to decide which U.S. citizens are Americans and which aren’t. ‘Cause if you want to play that game, I can play, too: Your willful disregard of the Constitution makes you un-American, in addition to being a pompous ass.
George W. Bush casually admitted yesterday that torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and ordering the invasion of Iraq were “the right thing to do.”
I guess that’s some improvement. At least he no longer is arguing that they were legal.
Of course, that also indicates that he believes he will never be held accountable for his crimes. And he’s probably right.
America. It really was a good idea.
UPDATE: Good to know I’m not the only one unhappy about this.
The Washington Post has obtained a copy of the Gitmo task force report. There’s a lot to digest — and logarithmically increased levels of bile are never good for digestion — but as usual, Emptywheel provides a decent plain-English summary of some fairly complicated legal issues (as well as some less complicated moral ones):
- “Concerns” about tainted evidence explained why at least “some” of these people cannot be prosecuted. I take that as a shorthand admission that these men–or their accusers–were abused in US custody. And the solution, apparently, is to just keep them in custody. The report doesn’t say how the government can trust the evidence itself if it is tainted. I guess they just know.
- For a significant number of the 48 men slated for indefinite detention, there is no evidence that the man participated in terrorism. Indeed, given the description, it appears there isn’t even any evidence the man took part in an attack on American troops (even granting the government claim that all such attacks were necessarily illegal and not self-defense, which is itself bogus). And given the timing implied by the October 2001 deadline, there’s not even any evidence these men continued their affiliation with Al Qaeda after 9/11 made it clear the organization was attacking US civilians. In short, a significant number of these 48 men are just like the mujahadeen the US used to fund in the glorious Reagan days. But in the glorious post-9/11 days, such actions qualify a man for indefinite detention.
- The report also notes–without giving any details–that the eight year statute of limitations has expired for a number of these men. You see, we’ve held these men with no charges for so long that now we can’t charge them, so we’ll just indefinitely detain them with no charges instead (which has the added benefit that the standard of evidence for detention in a habeas proceeding would be lower than that in a civilian trial).
- Finally, the report admits that it doesn’t want to charge some of these men with material support for terrorism because the 15 year maximum sentence presents “sentencing considerations.” To further translate, the government doesn’t want to charge these men with material support because they won’t be able to hold them long enough, even if they get a conviction. The government wants to hold them longer than Congress legislated the crime merited and so instead of charging them, the government will just hold them. Also logically included in that premise is the assumption that, first of all, this indefinite detention equates to “more than 15 years” of detention. And the assumption that the legal justification for holding these men–the AUMF–would extend at least 15 years from now.
This all just flies in the face of the rule of law. Indeed, it strongly suggests that some government lawyers should be losing their licenses.
… but, despite what Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli might think, former University of Virginia climate-change researcher Michael Mann ain’t the one who’s committing it:
Whatever the judicial doctrine of academic freedom may mean, at its heart it must protect those exercising core First Amendment rights—like researching, writing, speaking, and teaching. If government officials are allowed to dictate how the faculty exercises those rights, they are surely impinging on free speech. Indeed, the government impinges most directly on free speech by threatening to prosecute faculty for academic work that is wrong, shoddy, incomplete, mistaken, or fraudulent.
And this is precisely what Cuccinelli has asserted. He says he issued the subpoena because he wants to explore allegations that Michael Mann falsified data in his scholarship. Despite the fact that multiple academic inquiries into Mann’s research have vindicated him, it’s important to understand what the attorney general seeks to do here: Cuccinelli is not alleging fiscal fraud—he isn’t saying Mann used state funds to buy a Mercedes or finance trips to Aruba. Instead, Cuccinelli is investigating the scientific scholarship to make sure it meets his standard of academic integrity.
Using the threat of criminal or civil sanction to pursue “academic fraud” is the paradigm First Amendment case. Academic fraud is essentially what the authorities charged Galileo with—when he dared question the conventional religious wisdom that the sun revolved around the earth. It is what prosecutors alleged when they threatened academics during the Red Scare. And it is exactly what Cuccinelli is alleging here. The UVA subpoena violates both the individual rights of academics engaged in the exercise of speech rights on matters of public concern and the autonomy rights of the university to act independently from the government, as Frankfurter described in Sweezy.
“Academic fraud” is too easily used to suppress ideas that the authorities do not want to hear—in one case, the earth revolves around the sun; in another case, the earth is warming. It may be that what academics say is wrong, it may be that their methodologies are faulty, it may even be that they are twisting the evidence or making stuff up. But the government, through its prosecutors, cannot say anything about that.
I would add that not only is there zero evidence that Mann has committed academic fraud, we have multiple, independent reviews of his work that have found it sound. Pat Robertson protege Ken Cuccinelli is in this for the politics, pure and simple. Sadly, the only remedy for this kind of official misconduct is political as well.
Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:09 pm
The Republican operatives who loudly insisted they were innocent of breaking into Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in Louisiana have pleaded guilty and will not get jail time.
John Cole, FTW:
… is it entirely too much to ask that [James] O’Keefe be required to serve his community service under the watchful eyes of the New Orleans branch of ACORN? Pretty please?
Bonus points if he serves it dressed as a pimp.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:45 pm
A day after Rep. Mike Pence, R-INnumerate, claims a majority of Americans oppose repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a CNN poll finds that almost eight out of 10 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Someone please let Jim Webb know.