Recently in Constitution Category

From Kevin at American Street:

We are being robbed of our liberties. And Obama and McCain are equals in that theft. Both deserve to lose for their failure to defend the very essence of our country.

Well, yes, but … tomorrow is another day.

In other words liberty, and the fight for it, is an ongoing process. Soon, the ACLU will sue to overturn the legislation and it will wind it’s way through the courts. Maybe we’ll luck out and the SCOTUS will strike it down. Stranger things have happened — even with this version of the court.

Better yet: Obama will (hopefully) win and the next Congress may have an opportunity to reverse the legislation as well.

Then there’s the prospect of Atty Gen. Edwards prosecuting every single one of the telcos on criminal charges.

So it’s never “over.”

One thing for sure: FIRST, you need to win the freaking election, or most of what I just said is flushed down the toilet.

This is a significant day in the campaign, but we go on. Mark has a great post below and there are also lots of good posts around blogville today. I just got done reading Kevin's post over at American Street and he, too, makes a good case for why we should be disgusted with the Democrats and their nominee.

I was struck by Mark's mention of the founding fathers and of Voltaire; Franklin in particular held him in high regard -- no surprise there. I also note Mark's mention of John Adams who, as President, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, a heinous blot on constitutional history (part of which was still legal in 2008). Despite that, we remember Adams as a giant of the American Revolution, easily Jefferson's equal. That Adams could be both things -- a genius and yet a seriously flawed politician -- should give us some insight into the quandaries (and temptations) of leadership in the American system of governance.

So here's the thing: those of you who want to quit the game at this point are ceding the field to others who take comfort in our disunity. We'll survive yesterday's vote -- one of many to come -- in the Senate. But only if we don't break apart. Tomorrow the sun will come up again and for many days to come. We'll get another chance to get it right.

Attention should be paid to Russ Feingold, a champion of civil liberties but also a politician:

Maddow: With this vote, voters have to be asking if there is any meaningful difference between the parties on executive power, between the Democratic vision of executive power and the GOP. Certainly your vision of executive power is different than the president's. But can you say the same for your party?

Feingold: I'm very concerned about it. People have a great right to be disappointed and to look at the 2006 election both rigard to Iraq and say, "What are they doing?" But having a Democratic president, in particular Barack Obama, should allow us to greatly change this mistake.

Barack Obama believes in the Constitution, he's a Constitutional scholar. I believe he will have a better chance to look at these powers that have been given to the Executive branch. And even though he'll be running the Executive branch, I think he will understand and help take the lead in fixing some of the worst provisions.

So this is a huge setback. It would have been better for Democrats to stand together and not let it happen in the first place because it is much harder to change it after the fact. But I do believe that Barack Obama is well-positioned in terms of his knowledge and his background and his beliefs to correct this. So I do think the people have a right be disappointed, but they also have a right to hope for change on this issue particularly, starting in January.

As Franklin said, we must all hang together or we will surely hang separately.

A Dark Day for the Republic

| | Comments (4)

Just a ton of people have a whole heck of a lot to say about the Supreme Court's ruling overturning the D.C. handgun ban.

Frankly, I don't have a dog in this hunt, or drive-by shooting.

Anybody else give a flying fig? Enough I mean, you know, to change your vote or something?

We Have Met The Enemy

| | Comments (0)

Get your lobbying resume tweaked, Steny. After we've purged the body politic of the miscreants with "R"s next to their names, we're coming after you.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

Could there be a more heinous villain in the popular mind than Osama bin Laden? No.

And/But the debate rages: if he should be captured alive, would he, should he, be accorded habeas corpus rights or not?

History (and the American tradition) would teach us an important lesson and provide us with a useful guide -- if we would only listen.

Boston Massacre

On March 5, 1770, a tense situation due to a heavy British military presence in Boston boiled over to incite brawls between soldiers and civilians, and eventually led to troops discharging their muskets after being attacked by a rioting crowd. Three civilians were killed at the scene of the shooting, and two died after the incident.

Samuel Adams, a patriot and founding member of the Sons of Liberty, called the incident a "plot to massacre the inhabitants of Boston" and used it to rouse fellow colonists to rebellion. It worked: the shots fired that day are widely considered to be the initial battle of the American Revolution.

Who, then or now, could defend what the British soldiers did that day?

...[N]o lawyers in the Boston area wanted to defend the soldiers, as they believed it would be a huge career mistake. A desperate request was sent to John Adams from Preston, pleading for his work on the case.

Adams, who had everything to lose and nothing to gain (his political career was just beginning), nevertheless took the case because he believed that even the most hated criminal is entitled to a legal defense.

He was a masterful lawyer and mounted a successful defense of the accused. As a result of his skill, all but two of the soldiers were acquitted. The others were convicted of a reduced charge of manslaughter.

In his closing argument to the jury, Adams (a masterful orator) said something that, if he is ever honored with a memorial in Washington DC, should be engraved in stone for future generations of Americans -- and all people -- to remember forever:

Facts are stubborn things...Whatever our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence...The law is, on one hand, inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners. But on the other hand, it is deaf, deaf as an adder to the clamors of the populace.

John Adams, founding father, patriot and president, is speaking to us now, you and me, and our children, and our childrens' children -- if we would only listen.

I've always felt that the job of government is to keep an eye on business and the job of the independent press is to keep an eye on government. So when I see the traditional media being lazy and self-loathing (handing the cudgel to right-wingers so they can be clubbed mercilessly) it bothers me.

Now, in just the latest episode of a news industry that cares more for ratings (and profits) than they do for truth, we're reading about the Pentagon-orchestrated campaign to use "miltary analysts" with the appearance of objectivity to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance:

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

By co-opting the role of an independent press in this way, we've taken one more large and consequential step toward fascism -- a system where government and business are indistinguishable and the interests of the people are subverted or ignored entirely.

Glenn Greenwald:

One of the most significant political stories of this decade, if not this generation -- the media's full-scale complicity with the Government in the run-up to the Iraq war -- has never been meaningfully discussed or examined on any establishment television network, including cable shows. While piecemeal quibbles of media coverage can be heard (of the type [Washington Post's Howard] Kurtz typically spouts, or the Limbaugh-driven complaint about the "liberal media"), no fundamental critique of the role the media plays, the influence of its corporate ownership, its incestuous relationship with and dependence on government power -- among the most influential factors driving our political life -- are ever heard.

Hopefully, the role, influence, and ratings of the traditional media have lessened as the role of interactive media has grown. Blogs, wikis, social networks, video-sharing -- all of these non-traditional media (and more) have made it possible for an alternative narrative to emerge that highlights how our own government -- and the independent press -- has failed us.

However, and in the meantime, we're awash in bogus "scandals," chief among them whether or not Barack Obama secretly wants to "kill whitey." I presume that these stories are playing out 24/7 because they are (wait for it) good for ratings. High ratings, of course, lead to higher advertising revenues. On the other hand, reporting the truth might lead to real change --- which, at best, may have no impact on the news media's bottom line and may actually hurt it.

So the next time you hear about a politican who might be untrustworthy because he doesn't wear a flag pin, remember how the Pentagon supplied the generals (all of whom wore brass stars on their shoulders) and how they lied about how we're doing in the war -- and how the traditional media put them on the air in the first place.

Comedy and Tragedy

| | Comments (0)

by shep

Let it be recorded that on April 15, 2008, Comedy Central’s Daily Show spent more time on the recently revealed fact that the Vice President of the United States and all of the top cabinet officials of the Bush Administration repeatedly met in secret, in the White House, and conspired to break federal and international law to specify how unconvicted detainees of the United States would be tortured by US government agents, than all of the three major broadcast network news organizations combined, since the story broke four days ago.

Now I understand that one of the jobs of the Court Jester, during Medieval times, was to reveal the criticisms of the day to the King’s Court which could never be spoken by its sycophants. But, in the 21st Century democracy that is the world’s sole superpower, has its once-vaunted network television press completely and shamelessly abdicated its role to inform the public of what serves the public interest to cable comedy faux news shows? The answer is, apparently, yes. Well done, Brian Williams, Charles Gibson and (this says it all, really) Katie Couric. You are a miserable failure to your country.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

Traitors in Our Midst

| | Comments (0)

by shep

So ABC News breaks the story on April 11, 2008: ”It's revealed yesterday that the top officials in our Government, with the knowledge and approval of the President of the United States, planned, down to the detail, how the U.S. would illegally torture detainees.”

And their lead story on April 12, 2008 is: the out-of-context sentence by Barack Obama:”So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

(For anyone who isn’t a partisan asshole or obsequies establishment mouthpiece, the quote in its entirety): “But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

So where does the breaking news that President George W. Bush approved as his Vice President, Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet, Secretary of State, Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft sat around in the White House and directed the violation of federal and international law in directing the specific, serial torture techniques to be used on un-convicted US detainees appear? Nowhere. That information was disappeared, just as the detainees were in US/CIA government hands.

[Cross-posted At Dispassionate Liberal]


| | Comments (3)

(Cross posted at Daily Kos where it made the "Recommended Diaries" list)

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

The justices' decision Tuesday includes no comment explaining why they turned down the appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU appealed the case because the lower court said that the plaintiffs couldn't prove they had been spied on. The government said they couldn't reveal whether or not they had been spied on because it would compromise state security.

That's pretty much the definition of Catch-22.

So one more pillar of the American Constitution knocked away by the Bush Supreme Court.

Doesn't it make you feel all tingly?



Two ways to browse: