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Just musing....

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If the Legislative branch can sue the Executive branch for "overstepping his legal authority," can the Executive Branch sue the Legislative branch for "failure to perform their elected duties"?

(If so, the only winners are the Judicial branch, and given the current composition of the Supreme Court, I don't have a good feeling about any of this.)


Who knew?

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According to Marianne Williamson, candidate for the 33rd District of California for the US House of Representatives:

“I’m an author. When you’ve written 10 books and have six on the New York Times best-seller list — and four have been No. 1 — I think you have a right to be a member of Congress.”

I don't remember seeing that as a qualification in the Constitution.

I wonder how big Congress is really supposed to be, then? Does the USA Today list give you the "right" to be a governor, maybe?


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Pardon me while I wipe the froth from my gaping badger jaws.

(And may I say, thank all gods, including theirs, that not all conservatives are this stupid.)

On the plus side, making this attitude overt--and public--should finally ring the death knell of that branch of the Republican party. There's nothing like holding oneself up to ridicule (as opposed to letting other people do it for you) to trivialize your position.

Because heaven knows that there is such a huge difference between seeing 22 men chase a ball back and forth, and knowing that some of them don't share your particular orientation toward that ball!

With writers in mind

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The City of Detroit has found a new tactic in its battle to reverse population loss: It's giving houses to writers.

For free (well, practically).

I'm not sure this will necessarily increase the average gross income in the city, but it's certainly different--and a terrific opportunity for talented writers.

Pass the word.

You GO, Land of Enchantment!

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The New Mexico court unanimously held that “[b]ecause same-gender couples (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, hereinafter ‘LGBT’) are a discrete group which has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence, and which has inadequate political power to protect itself from such treatment, the classification at issue must withstand intermediate scrutiny to be constitutional.” Thus, under the New Mexico decision, any anti-LGBT law will be subject to heightened constitutional scrutiny — and the New Mexico court explicitly included transgender individuals within the scope of its holding.

I am so proud of my adopted home state right now. And I am so delighted for Richard and Tim and all the other LGBT folks I worked with, who for so many years had to hide who they really were and live in terror of losing their clearances and their jobs for no damn good reason.* I just wish it hadn't taken so long.

And you go, Judge Robert Shelby of the US District Court for the District of Utah--Utah!--who struck down the state's constitutional amendment restricting the right to marry. And extra points for using Scalia's own dissent against him--we saw what you did there!

The quote about NM is taken from the article about Shelby. The dominoes are falling, folks, and every straight couple I know remains as married as they were yesterday. Amazing, isn't it?

*I can still remember the shock I felt when I saw the first announcement of a meeting of Q Lambda in the company newspaper. And the first thing I thought was, "My god, those folks are brave." It didn't occur to me for years to wonder what it had taken to get that notice published in the company newspaper. That took courage, too, both on the part of the editor and the management who okayed it.

Happy Bartolomé Day!

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Reposted from padparadscha, because, well, she says it so well:

If you haven't already seen The Oatmeal's Columbus Day comic, I suggest you go read it now. It's stomach-churning but informative.*

Mom had read Lies My Teacher Told Me and other such books, and when I was still in grade school she set the record straight on just how enthusiastic a participant Columbus was in the Worst Genocide In Recorded History. It made sitting through that bullshit cartoon about his heroism ... awkward, at best. (Also as it turns out, raising your hand and confidently asking your teacher when we were going to address how Columbus was a Very Bad Dude and everyone already knew the Earth was round and also he DIDN'T discover America because dude there were already natives and anyway Leif Erikson, is going to make her panic. Poor lady shut me down like the next sentence I uttered would unleash Cthulhu.) I also really hated learning about the Conquistadors, because it was, let's be frank, A Fucking Awful Story. So Columbus Day was always a bit uncomfortable for me.

But no more! For now The Oatmeal has educated me about Bartolomé de las Casas, who was actually a Spaniard who (eventually) decided that mass murder/enslavement/rape/plunder/cultural eradication/pretty much bringing on the New World Apocalypse were NOT cool and tried to stop all that shit from going down. Which is much more worthy of celebration.

So happy Bartolomé Day, everyone! And let's learn our lessons from the past and try not to let any more mass murdering fuckheads get holidays, shall we?

*Minor nitpick: Abraham Lincoln technically does not have his own federal holiday; the official title of Presidents' Day is Washington's Birthday. Many states have changed it to "Presidents' Day," in honor of Lincoln, but the federal holiday remains Washington's.

ETA: to correct the text above (the link was good, the text made no sense), and to note:

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After three years of cajoling, finessing and occasionally strong-arming his fitful conservative majority, Speaker John A. Boehner waved the white flag on Wednesday, surrendering to demands from his right flank that he tie money to keep the government open after Sept. 30 to stripping President Obama’s health care law of any financing.

In other words, the Republican Party is willing to hold the entire government hostage in an effort to kill a bill that offers access to healthcare to millions of Americans.

I'm not the biggest fan of Obamacare around--I would have far preferred to have Medicare extended to all of us, and the crippling restrictions on its ability to negotiate stripped out instead--but Obamacare is, at the very least, a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we're already seeing companies dropping health coverage for retirees, part-time, and even fulltime employees in the expectation that they'll find coverage on health exchanges. Does anyone seriously think that if the healthcare bill is stripped of its funding, that those companies are going to restore those benefits? No. Net result, we're going to be even worse off, and the rest of the world will continue to be amazed at just how stupid American government can be.

Honestly, absolute monarchy begins to look more and more attractive.


I got nothin'.

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Seen on film of a Tea Party rally: NO GOVERNMENT RUN HEALTH CARE.

Because the alternative is SO much better...


Oh good grief.

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I hate health insurance in the United States.

THEORETICALLY, my insurance is SUPPOSED to cover preventive procedures such as mammograms and bone density scans.

But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I am on the hook for ALL of it.

Which, on top of the propane delivery ($600+) and the car emergency ($2,000+) means April is a fucking bad month for me.

I want Medicare expanded to cover the entire country, NOW. And I want them able to take competitive bids for drugs. NOW.

This country is insane.
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The Federal Government has already defined marriage twice--once with DOMA, but once when it forced the LDS to give up plural marriage as a condition of statehood for Utah. Now it sounds like the SCOTUS can't wait to back away from this.

At least the outlook for DOMA doesn't look healthy. However, for the Chief Justice to suggest that the President should pick and choose which laws he's going to enforce is...somewhat appalling.

eta: Nope, dammit. Three times, with Loving v. Virginia, when they decided that interracial marriage was legal.

So WHY are they so afraid to deal with gay marriage? "it's too soon"? Wasn't that the argument they used for the Emancipation Proclamation?

And are we now going to require that every person married in a foreign country has to be married according to US law to inherit according to that law? There are a lot of folks in this country who weren't married here.


Dear Senator Portman

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I'm sorry, but I can't join the chorus of cheers at the news that you've changed your mind about gay marriage on discovering your son is gay.

I'm glad you've discovered that all those votes for the Defense of Marriage Act and its ilk suddenly have a real and immediate impact on a human being. But changing your vote just because that human being happens to be your son? Was it okay to limit and demean other people, but not when it's your son? Is this the way you legislate for the people of this country? Is it okay to persecute and discriminate as long as it's not your son?

I'd really prefer to know that the good people of Ohio elect someone who thinks his votes through for everybody's children, not just their own.

No love,



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Lest we forget.

This is not only what we have done to ourselves, but what we let our government do in our names. This is what we can be. Never forget.


Oh, Durbin FTW!

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So here's the scenario:

Hilary Clinton is testifying before the Senate subcommittee about security at the Libyan, and presumably other, embassies. As we have come, unfortunately, to expect, the questioning is along partisan lines, and one John McCain (remember him? Used to be a moderate?) is hammering her on funding. Secretary Clinton points out (repeatedly) that the funding for security does in fact exist; it is in the State department budget, BUT the House of Represenatives has refused to allow State to move the money around to actually PAY for better security.

McCain continues to hammer, finally saying, in paraphrase (until quotes), I don't think you're telling us the truth, you're a liar, and "The American people deserve to know the truth."

At which point, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who is my newest hero, says, "I have five words for you about 'the American people deserve to know the truth', Senator: "Iraqi Weapons Of Mass Destruction.""

At which point, for some reason, McCain decided to shut the fuck up.

And points to Clinton for NOT cracking a smile.


Inauguration Day

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We have a system, and it works.

And although not everyone is pleased with HOW it works, necessarily, the fact is that in a democracy, sometimes you're in the minority, and sometimes you're in the majority, and it changes over time.

I have at least one acquaintance who is, I am certain, sure that today's events portend the end of American democracy as she knows it. I am sorry for this, because today's events ARE American democracy. While I will confess to a sneaking fondness for the whole idea of an absolute monarchy, for the most part this system does work better. It does allow for changes.

When my mother was born, women could not vote in most of this country. Blacks might as well have been legally denied the vote, since for all practical purposes they were. Homosexuality was identified, universally and exclusively, as a sin. In the entire country, there were only 130,000 automobiles. Think about that for a minute or two!

And now? Things have changed.

Things have changed in my own lifetime. I remember when it was considered absolutely unthinkable by many that a Roman Catholic should run for president, let alone be elected; in this past election, we didn't even field a WASP.

But the most important thing about observing that "things have changed" is that change doesn't stop here. We may not like some of the changes we see, but all things change. We change, ourselves. So we ought to celebrate today, because tomorrow will be different, no matter where we are or who we are. That's evolution.


Draw your own comparisons

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Presented without comment:

After the criminal murder of S. M. Kirov, mass repressions and brutal acts of violation of Socialist legality began. On the evening of December 1, 1934, on Stalin's initiative (without the approval of the Political Bureau - which was passed 2 days later, casually) the Secretary of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, Yenukidze, signed the following directive:

I. Investigative agencies are directed to speed up the cases of those accused of the preparation or execution of acts of terror.

II. Judicial organs are directed not to hold up the execution of death sentences pertaining to crimes of this category in order to consider the possibility of pardon, because the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, U.S.S.R, does not consider as possible the receiving of petitions of this sort.

III. The organs of the Commissariat of Internal Affairs are directed to execute the death sentences against criminals of the above-mentioned category immediately after the passage of sentences.

This directive became the basis for mass acts of abuse against Socialist legality. During many of the fabricated court cases the accused were charged with "the preparation" of terroristic acts; this deprived them of any, possibility that their cases might be reexamined, even when they stated before the court that their confessions were secured by force, and when, in a convincing manner, they disproved the accusations against them. . . .



Government, and so on

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Watching the Dust Bowl series (Ken Burns strikes again), and wondered how many of those folks, and their descendants, would object to government assistance, and what they would think about immigration laws.  I never knew, for instance, that the state of California tried to impose immigration requirements on people coming from Oklahoma, and the City of Los Angeles set up checkpoints at entry points from Arizona.

And I finally figured out why Mitt Romney's suggestion to students about tuitition money sounded so familiar--"If you need tuition money, borrow from your parents" comes from exactly the same place as Marie Antoinette's, "If they have no bread, let them eat cake!"

"If you're down, they push you down."

There was very good reason that Franklin D was re-elected three times, and it wasn't because he thought that government ought to let people sink or swim because "they ought to take responsibility for themselves."

I also just saw Lincoln.  Wow.  I see at least six strong Oscar contenders.  Tommy Lee Jones must have hugged himself over that script; he's got the best lines.  Daniel Day Lewis does a marvelous job; Sally Field likewise.  This movie has some pointed things to say about politics, and power, and compromise, and one cannot but wonder how things might have turned out, in some other universe or universes.


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I just sat through an 18:30 YouTube of the infamous "Karl Rove meltdown" on Fox News over the Ohio results.  Now, gods know I am emphatically <b><i>not</i></b> a fan of Mr. Rove and all (or any of) his works--but I have to say, What metldown?

He was making a valid point: Fox was calling the results on an exceedingly slim margin, with substantial numbers of votes to be counted.  Yes, those votes were from Democratic precincts.  But it WAS a very slim margin, and I think that if he had emphasized that, rather than trying to rattle off the actual numbers, he might have gotten farther.  What I saw was everyone *else* deciding he was having a meltdown, and you know what?  That's demonizing.

Karl Rove is already a demon.  You don't have to make up stuff to prove it.  Give credit where credit was due--he was polite, he was firm, but he did NOT have a meltdown.


Dear Donald Trump:

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You're an idiot, too, but with hair like yours, I should expect it.

Please go back and take elementary school civics.  If the outcome of an election is not what you want, that doesn't mean we don't have a democracy.  It means you're in a minority.  GET USED TO IT.

And by the way, "Your vote only counts if it agrees with mine" is not the definition of a democracy.

(ETA to add the Tweet I would have sent the jerk if I could be bothered.)



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An article in a recent (print) edition of Time Magazine discussed one of the biggest problems that people have in talking to one another, viz.: the lack of shared definitions, or even more precisely, the lack of knowledge of the lack of shared definitions. So that we're using the same words to talk about the same thing, but the words mean different things, and we don't even realize we're talking right past one another.

For example, "fairness." The article proffered three definitions of "fairness:"

1) You get what you work for, you keep what you earned by your own hard work.

2) Everybody gets the same amount.

3) The rules apply to everyone equally.

If I'm a Romney Republican, definition 1 seems fair. Hey, I worked for my millions, I should get to enjoy them.

If I'm a communist, definition 2 is fair. All people are created equal, and everybody gets the same thing.

If I'm almost anybody, definition 3 is fair. BUT... first you have to agree on what the rules are.

We operate in this country on a mixture of the three definitions, I think. We praise hard work and talk about "earning" rewards. At the same time, we teach children to share what they have--nobody gets a bigger piece of cake, and taking the biggest piece of candy is generally considered not just rude, but greedy, and greed is (pace Wall Street) a bad thing, not polite, grit in the social machine. So "fair" depends on circumstances.

I have an acquaintance who said to me, several weeks ago, that she was "terrified" of the consequences if Obama was re-elected. She saw that as the road to socialism, to Communism. When she was a sophomore in high school, she'd attended a Freedom Forum camp that had thoroughly inoculated her against the Evils of Communism.

I don't know how this woman would define "fair," but I think she would come down on definition #1 (althought I would bet she taught her son not to grab the biggest piece of cake, too). I also wonder how she defines "socialism." I don't know exactly what she was taught so many years ago about the Evil Red Menace, but I'm willing to bet it has no resemblance whatsoever to Communism today--or even in the sixties, when she attended the camp. How she can associate Obamacare with socialism baffles me. I think we're not using the same definitions.

I think she is in mourning today, and I'm sorry for that. I told her when we had our discussion that no matter how the election turned out, it would probably be neither as bad as either of us feared or as good as either of us hoped. But it's the result we have, and we are Americans and we will work with it, because that's what we do, ultimately.


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In Roanoke, VA, there are still LONG lines of people waiting to vote. And the polls closed two and a half hours ago. (They'll be able to vote as long as they were in line as of 7 pm.)

I think the fat lady is still in her dressing room. She's not even close to singing yet.


This is the point.

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People have been waiting in line here for hours to vote. At least one place had to switch to paper ballots after machines showed Romney as a Democrat and Obama as a Republican--the registrar said "it did not impact any votes." (Yes, we do need teachers. Preferably ones who know that "impact" is not a verb.)

This election has stirred up people I have never seen as passionate about elections before. If nothing else, the partisanship created by the last election has made some issues much clearer than they had been.

In the Senate race in Virginia, candidates spent EIGHTY MILLION DOLLARS on the campaign.

In other news, the Constitutional Court of Spain has now officially recognized LGBT marriage. Spain, for heaven's sake! The home of the fucking Inquisition is more progressive than the Home of the Brave, Land of the Free. *shakes head*

If you're a US citizen and of age, I hope you voted. If you didn't--don't bitch.


Jefferson Wept

About damn time.

I am ... baffled, saddened, horrified ... all of the above--that a country which prides itself on "freedom and justice for all," which has encoded that belief in a Bill of Rights which we wave self-righteously in the faces of the world, could in any way justify what has happened to Abdullah al-Kidd. If our government gets to pick and choose which of its citizens are actually entitled to the protection of our Constitution, then none of us are.

Too funny

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Go on Twitter and check out #MuslimRage. Gotta love it.

Somebody please 'splain this to me?

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The same state with a Stand Your Ground law that allows a man to kill an unarmed teenager simultaneously imposes a mandatory 20-year-sentence on a woman who fires a warming shot at an abusive husband.

Say what now?

Now, I have been on a jury which was required to impose a mandatory sentence, only to discover later that the defendant was offered a plea bargain which he turned down. That, I believe, was a case of "dude, your lawyer is kidding you, you are going to jail," and it was a stupidity sentence. In the case above, though, the woman tried to invoke the same law that George Zimmerman was depending on for his defense, but somehow... somehow it's just not the same when it's a woman. Firing a warning shot. Against an abusive husband. Who tried to strangle her. Who was threatening to kill her.

Dear heavens, we really are moving into the world of the Handmaid's Tale.

Only in America....

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.... not.

In case you were wondering, the Patriot Act supercedes the Second Amendment.

Bear that in mind if you're tempted to, oh, do research. Or think for yourself.


I don't get it

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On the one hand, we have all kinds of hysteria about Social Security and Medicare, wherein People Say that the trust fund is going to go into negative numbers with respect to its obligations as soon, perhaps, as 2030. And why? Because not enough money is coming in. Because the workforce is aging. Oh noes!

And on the other hand, we have laws like the one in Arizona, which would make it illegal for illegal immgrants to work.

Wouldn't it make more sense to say, "Sure, you can come in. You can even get jobs. BUT you will pay, say, 25% more in SS and Medicare tax than citizens will."

This would encourage employers to hire citizens (since their share would also increase); it would encourage immigrants to qualify for citizenship as quickly as possible (not that I don't think they're already trying to do that!), AND it would increase the flow of money to the benefits programs. Plus, it would give those folks a chance to make some money (since they would STILL be earning more than they would in their home countries.

There's an argument that these folks aren't paying any taxes anyway, that they're all being hired out of parking lots and paid under the table. Yeah, a lot of them are. But why not set up hiring pools for them? That way we'd have a way of collecting taxes, and they'd have a way of getting work without being hassled (and quite frankly going through the indignity of will-work-for-food, which can't be all that wonderful either). (And a lot of them DO pay taxes, in fact; they've been here a long long time.)

I just don't understand why no one seems to have connected the issues of Our Aging Workforce and Immigration and come up with 2+2=4.


The shaming room

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Originally posted by kikibug13 at The shaming room
Originally posted by bajoransmurf at Please take a seat in the shaming room...
Originally posted by denorios at Please take a seat in the shaming room...
Since a number of US newspapers have refused to republish the latest Doonesbury cartoon strip which highlights the way Republicans are attempting to undermine a woman's right to choose, I feel it's important to make sure the message still gets across.

The shaming room awaits.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Warning: Rush Limbaugh doesn't use condoms

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From a NYT opinion piece:

A week after she was shut out of the House hearing, House Democrats gave her a platform at an informal Democratic event where she testified that fellow students at her Jesuit university pay as much as $1,000 a year for contraceptives that are not covered by student health plans.

On his Wednesday show, Mr. Limbaugh said: “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Those remarks and others whipped up a frenzy of denunciations, but on Thursday, Mr. Limbaugh held his ground, declaring: “If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Since I haven't seen videos of Rush getting busy on YouTube (not that I've been looking, thank heavens), I have to assume that he prefers to ride bareback. Sauce for the goose...


Way to go, New Hampshire!

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New Hampshire's legislature is considering a bill to repeal its 2009 law legalizing gay marriage. The bill includes the following: “Children can only be conceived naturally through copulation by heterosexual couples.”

While this may be technically true (for some value of "naturally" as yet to be definitively, as it were, defined), the ramifications are breathtaking. Sure as shootin', somebody's going to read "naturally" as "legally," thereby making adoption, in-vitro fertilization, and single parenthood illegal in the state of New Hampshire.

Apparently nobody in NH is particularly concerned with the recent ruling of the Federal Appeals Court in California, which ruled that Proposition 8 didn't have a leg to stand on. NH's repeal move is on even weaker grounds, I'm guessing, since the law has been in place for three years and no damage to the good heterosexual citizens of the state has been demonstrated. I await the legal fireworks with something approaching glee. As it were.



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Since when is aspiring to a college education "snobbery"?

And since when is a President's wanting to make it possible for as many people as possible "because he wants to make you over in his image"?

College is not the be-all and end-all. Heaven knows there are a lot of honorable and lucrative professions out there which don't require a college degree (writing, for instance). But to call wanting such a degree snobbery... particularly from a candidate who has a college degree... I just... have no words. None.



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The CDC--yes, the Center for Disease Control!--has issued an Emergency Preparedness Guide.

For the Zombie Apocalypse.

I love my country.

Dear President Obama....

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You mean well, but honestly, there are times when I think you're an idiot.

What did you THINK would happen when you buckled to DONALD FUCKING TRUMP, for heavens' sake? Now we have to listen to that asshole crowing about the amount of power he has over the President of the United States! Did you honestly think that this would resolve the issue so we all could move on? Are you STILL under the delusion that you're dealing with rational people?


The people who knew it was a non-issue now know that you can be irritated into doing something dumb. The birthers will now insist it's a forgery. And Donald Trump will make political hay about the "service" he's done the country.

Is there someone in Canada who will *please* adopt me?


WTF, Section Leader?

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Apparently the governor of Michigan and its legislature have lost their collective minds. As has their Attorney General, if he's advising them this has anything to do with our system of government as it is commonly understood....


The ultimate reader's chair

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It doesn't look all that comfortable, but oh my is it practical.
I could use about, oh, six of those.

In other news, the funding for Reading is Fundamental has been eliminated with the stroke of a pen. Apparently "fundamental" no longer denotes "essential." I mourn.

This is our system. It works.

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... even if we hate it a lot sometimes.

The hardest thing to grasp about a democracy is that sometimes, to protect a greater right, you have to protect something you'd rather burn your shoes for stepping in.

This means that if you really believe in the First Amendment, if you really do believe that people have the right to say what they believe in, that the government does not have the right to dictate your conscience, you have to allow the other guy the same freedom. Whether it's the Nazis marching in Skokie or Westboro Baptist Church demonstrating at military funerals, the right to freedom of political speech is protected in this country.

I was relieved to see that the Supreme Court decision did point out that the protestors were on public property and not breathing down the neck of the mourners. I hate beyond words the pain they inflicted on the people who had lost a son, a husband, a brother. They are monsters.

But they have the right to say what they think, even so.

Of course, I have the right to say they are wrong, misled, and profoundly evil to do what they are doing, too.

This is our system. It's not perfect. But it works.


I stand with Planned Parenthood, too

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Because suricattus said it first and so very well, I'm just repeating her post wholesale, with permission:

suricattus*In case you haven't heard, the House has voted to bar Planned Parenthood from federal funding, putting millions of women and families at risk.

Planned Parenthood is often the only chance young women - and many older ones -- have to get any kind of care - birth control, yes. Abortions, if needed. But also cancer screenings, HIV tests, and unbiased, no-bullshit information about how to take care of themselves. It's a step that can save us money down the road in care. And yet, it has been targeted not just for cuts, but for zero funding.


Hell yes, I stand with Planned Parenthood. Will you? Sign the open letter to the the reps who voted for this bill -- and to the senators who still have a chance to stop it.

Do it now. Stand up, and stand with Planned Parenthood.

And for those of you who need a financial reason to do the right thing - in the long run, finding/stopping a problem early the way PP does, with their advice and screenings -- has ALWAYS been more cost effective than treating it later.


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Just... incredibly.... wow.


Happy Korematsu Day (a bit late)

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Last Sunday California observed Korematsu Day. Fred Korematsu, along with thousands of other American citizens, was illegally interned during WWII for the crime of being of Japanese descent.

The Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Among the crimes of the British Crown enumerated in the Declaration of Independence:

depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

The Supreme Court found against Mr. Korematsu. So I suppose technically his imprisonment is not "illegal."

But it sure as hell was un-American.

Don't forget.


Targeted Murder Without Trial?

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This terrifies me.

I think that the Founding Fathers would have wept to know that the country they fought for, the principles they set forth in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution, could propose that the government they created could declare that an American citizen could, in express contradiction of the Fifth Amendment, which states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

And in contradiction as well of the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Yet the judge threw this case out because 1) a citizen had no standing to challenge the law; and 2) "decisions to mount targeted killings overseas are a “political question” for executive officials to make."

I don't know what that judge was drinking, but clearly he needs to review Constitutional Law 101. He might also take another look at the list of grievances made by the Founders against the British King, to justify our revolution against him, which include among others:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

And the worst thing of all is that I am deeply afraid that if this case were to go to the Supreme Court as presently constituted, the decision would be upheld.

I am deeply disappointed in a government that we elected in hope, only to find that nothing, at least in this respect, has changed.


Quis custodies?

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The NYT reported today that the Supreme Court has ruled that "the government may prohibit all forms of aid to designated terrorist groups, even if the support consists of training and advice about entirely peaceful and legal activities." Such aid includes "how to bring human rights complaints to the United Nations and assist them in peace negotiations."

Who designates a group as a "terrorist group"? I've seen "the Treasury Department," "the State Department," and a lot of other vague "US Government" references, but I have never seen any legal process for making such designation. It appears to be made pretty much on a whim. There are no published standards so far as I can find.

So anyone in the US Government, it looks like, can designate a group as "terrorist", and then jail you for providing advice to them about how to get themselves un-designated. Such groups could be Muslim charities. They could be Jewish philanthropic groups. They could be Peace Corps folks teaching the wrong things to the wrong students. Hell, if someone wanted to, they could designate the Boy Scouts as a terrorist group--look at all that outdoorsy stuff! Tying knots! Tracking! Training camps out in the wilderness! Certainly looks suspicious to me!

Doesn't anyone see the potential for abuse in this decision? It makes sense to say, "No, you can't provide money or weapons or help hide these folks," but to tell us "You can't advise them about how to make peace" and "You can't help them bring their grievances before the United Nations so you can try to get a fair hearing"--how far a step is it to say, "You can't provide them with legal advice in court. You can't give them a Miranda warning. You can't give them a legal defense?"

I am really disturbed by the path I see this country taking. I am afraid when I see Supreme Court decisions like this one, and laws like this one, because I have read my history, and I have seen how laws can be twisted and manipulated to abuse the innocent, to destroy civil rights, and eventually to oppress and murder millions. I am appalled at this decision, and deeply frightened. Is no one looking at the potential consequences of these decisions, other than Justices Breyer, Bader, and Sotomayor?

(This is particularly ironic in light of the presidential pardons of folks providing what was very definitely very material aid to Israel in 1948!)

Holy crap.

blue flowers
I never thought in this lifetime or any other I'd end up agreeing with Glenn Beck on much of anything, including where the sun rises, but I find myself totally agreeing with the quote in this article.

I find it interesting that our lawmakers show so very little trust in our Constitution and our system of justice--it's as if they feel that what we already have cannot possibly be adequate to deal with terrorists, so we must employ military commissions and rendition and torture, even when no one can point to one single nugget of information that we could not have gotten in a timely fashion by using methods currently authorized in the law as it's currently written. I think the same mindset is at work in those lawmakers who pass and sign laws like the Arizona immigration law--even though no one can show that illegal immigrants are a greater threat to national safety than our own citizens.

We really have lost faith in ourselves, haven't we?


The importance of symbols

blue flowers
Do you all remember the jokes, back in September of 2001, when we would say, "If we don't do x, the terrorists will have won"? It was black comedy. It was irony. It was the voice of anger, and we were furious, all of us. All those things that, back in September of 2001, we vowed we would not stop doing, because otherwise They, the terrorists, would have won.

Symbols. Symbols are important.

Symbols of what makes us us, makes us the United States of America: the Constitution. The Presidency. Congress. The Supreme Court.

As John Roberts said at his confirmation hearings, “I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps to argue a case before the court.”

Up the marble steps to the doors of justice, the highest court in the land. "Equal Justice Under Law."

And now the doors are closed.

I think the terrorists have won.


Just an observation....

blue flowers
Anybody else notice that so far, not one of the persons arrested in the Times Square attempted bombing case was an illegal immigrant? Citizens all.

(Come to that, all of the persons directly involved in the Twin Towers/Pentagon hijackings were in the country legally, too, iirc.)


Warning, political rant ahead.

I have some dear friends in the state of Arizona. But I will not visit it and will not knowingly purchase any item manufactured in the state of Arizona so long as the current anti-immigration law remains on the books there.

Any state—any COUNTRY—which requires its police to stop individuals and demand proof of citizenship on the mere suspicion that they may be illegal immigrants is not a state which I wish to have anything to do with. I don’t want to live in a country that demands that every person carry with them their proof of citizenship, and be subject to the whim of a cop who's having a bad day.

I am particularly sensitive to this topic, perhaps, because I was born in a foreign country, my birth certificate is in a foreign language, and at the age of 18 I had to stand in front of a judge and take a citizenship oath of allegiance to a country of which I was ALREADY a citizen. When I was in college and took the Greyhound bus back and forth on holidays, we always had to stop for the Border Patrol checkpoint, and I watched the federales asking people where they were born. Arizona’s law is supposed to forbid racial profiling. Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. So those English-speaking white males shouldn’t be surprised at all when they start getting pulled over too, and told to produce their birth certificates. Because I hear a lot of folks from Iceland are looking for a warmer climate these days.

If they think I’m going to carry my Certificate of Citizenship around with me they’re fucking crazy. And if they think I will tolerate being subject to being stopped for no reason—or tolerate other people being stopped for no reason—they’re wrong. Because the last time a country decided that was a Really Good Idea, they were looking not for proof of citizenship so much as proof of religion…because they’d already taken away citizenship.


God bless those who think.

blue flowers
Times-CNN conducted a survey to find out who Tea Party supporters are and what they really think. I have to admit that some things about this surprised me; I thought Tea Party supporters were generally less well educated than the norm--which is my bias showing. But the best thing about this article is the very last paragraph.


What Would George (Washington) Say?

blue flowers
The US government can designate US citizens as targets for assassination.

I wonder if this was part of the Founding Fathers' original intent with all those silly ideas in the Bill of Rights.


I love this!

blue flowers
This is was forwarded by my friend Joan from, who says:

"A little something to confound your Tea Party, Libertarian, and anti-health-care-reform [and Libertarian--let's not forget them!] friends:

"This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that I turned on the TV to one of the regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like by using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

"At the appropriate time as regulated by the US Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and drive to work on the roads built by the local state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protections Agency, using legal render issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

"After work, I drive my NHTSA car on the DOT roads to my house, which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

"I then log onto the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

"{Sorry, I don't remember where I found that (and it was only yesterday!) but googling led me to a bunch of sites/blog posts dated August 9, 2009 or thereabouts. That must be when it went viral."


Oh yeah, what he says.

blue flowers

Well, I was "peaceful" for a few minutes. Right now I think my mood is halfway between annoyed and amused. I may just settle for


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