Saturday, October 14, 2006

Making plans

We're now less than three and a half weeks from the elections, and the forecasts keep rolling in. And despite every forecast I've seen becoming more and more optimistic for the Democrats, every liberal I've talked to about the election is cautious. Heck, even me. I tend to be recklessly optimistic about a lot of things, but I know that many people nationally think that elections are something to screw around with and that winning is far more important than process. That's something both parties have been guilty of, but the evidence is clear that in recent years, it's primarily the Republicans playing dirty tricks and breaking the law. That's a rant for another day.

Anyway, the point is that despite a mountain of evidence and dozens of polls, liberal and progressive voters are doing everything they can to not count their proverbial chickens.

One might ask what's going on in the Republican camps.

Well, we know that some of them are endorsing Democrats this year.

Some of them are preparing to go to prison. As an aside, here's an interesting tidbit about Ney - if he doesn't formally resign, but waits until November 9 to be kicked out of Congress (assuming, of course, that the GOP doesn't decide to renege), he'll make roughly $10,000 from his salary, paid of course by you and me.

And the top Republicans, what are they doing? "They aren't even planning for if they lose."

The Say Hey Countdown

Willie Mays

Friday, October 13, 2006

Update on "Hanni-Date"

Speaking of Sean Hannity, remember his dating service? Ladies, here's the man of your dreams:

Well theres not much to say..... I'm 23 not married and have a little 1 year old girl named Keeva. I work a dead end job that I hate. My intrests are movies, animie and, video game ya five star loser. I also love ProWrestling I'm what called a BackYard Wrestler. yup thats about real hair color is brown but I bleach it. um......... I have a tatoo of a star on my left sholder um...

OK,ladies, please, no pushing or shoving, take your turns, not everybody at once

Response from GM to Sean Hannity complaint

I wrote to General Motors to tell them that I was offended that they would participate in a promotion

with Sean Hannity. Here is the form response:
Thank you for your feedback and comments.
GM is a prominent advertiser in America and to tell our story we advertise across a tremendously wide array of media trying to connect with all customers irrespective of ethnic, religious or political affiliations. The current promotion on Sean Hannity's program is not intended to create controversy or support for any political view. Rather, it is designed to generate interest in our world-class lineup of vehicles. Sean Hannity has not been hired as a spokesperson nor is he receiving compensation from GM.

I see their point. Where else but the Sean Hannity show could you reach those of a certain economic status

or educational level

or ideological orientation.

The Party of Values

The Grand Old Party.

Let's see what we've seen today from these great men, these staunch defenders of everything that's right with America, these mind-blowingly hypocitical bastards:

1) Ohio Representative Bob Ney. Current Representative Bob Ney. Who has pled guilty to taking bribes from White House friend and convicted criminal Jack Abramoff. Who's still in Congress, because he won't resign.

Now, to be fair, GOP leaders have said they intend to get rid of him as the "first order of business" in the next session. After the election.

Now, Ney's not totally ignorant of his need to resign. "Ney's lawyer, Mark Touhey, told the judge Ney would resign before sentencing on January 19. Under the Constitution, he'll be gone before then. His term expires when the new Congress is sworn in at noon on January 3."

And remember the Mel Gibson defense? The Mark Foley defense? "It weren't me, yer honorableness! It were the demon rum what made me do them awful things. I swears!"

"The treatment and counseling I have started have been very helpful, but I know that I am not done yet and that I have more work to do to deal with my alcohol dependency," he said in a written statement.

2) Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays. He's been saying stupid things lately, but he's hit a new height of ignorant and irresponsible with this one. During a debate on Wednesday, Shays said "Now I've seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture. It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from [Maryland] who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked." No, Chris, a sex ring is what Mark Foley was trying to turn the page dorm into. Abu Ghraib (photos here on Salon) is an example of humanity gone wrong.

I see the evil and greedy are busy today.

Subtle media bias?

I have often been amused by sentencing in the federal courts, where the terms are defined in months rather than years. Wow, I could have gotten 10 years, but I lucked out, only 120 months!

Team Member JTB posited this one. Here is the CNN story on slimy Bob Ney's guilty plea. Do you think the mixing of months and years soft-pedals what a huge break on sentencing Ney is getting? (knowing that the part of Retard America will be played by Billy Bob Thornton's Karl from Sling Blade, and they said there'd be no math.)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Friday in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, the first lawmaker to confess to crimes in a scandal that has stained the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration. Standing before Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, Ney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements. He acknowledged taking money, gifts and favors in return for official actions on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

The 52-year-old lawmaker faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. Huvelle said prosecutors had agreed to recommend a term of 27 months.

Hard work--makin' progress

Violence in Iraq forces the interior ministry to budget a loss of 25 police officers each day to death or permanent injury, a US security advisor said. "We budgeted for 10 Iraqi policemen killed every day and 15 wounded in action to the point where they had to be retired from action" in 2006, Gerald Burke, National Security Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior said (link).

Burke described the appalling conditions facing police whom he helped train, to a meeting of the Democratic Policy Committee, which includes Democratic legislators.He blamed much of the current bloodshed on the US government's "failure to recognize the importance of security in the immediate post-conflict environment, in particular our failure to support the rule of law."

An army veteran with more than 25 years' experience in law enforcement, Burke was one of six specialists sent to Iraq in May 2003 by the US Department of Justice to conduct an assessment of the Iraqi criminal justice system.

Friday the 13th Countdown

Reggie Bush

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oh, you wacky Canucks

It's legal in Whistler, right? And Afghanistan, too, I'm guessing...

OTTAWA, Canada (Reuters) -- Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.

General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices. ... And as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa, Canada.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those [forests] did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hiller said dryly.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'."

"Trucking got my chips cashed in..."

Talking to a Shrub

Even Wolf Blitzer had enough

Patrick McHenry, Republican Congresstool from North Carolina, went on Wolf Blitzer's show to spew talking points. Surprise, surprise, even Blitzer, master of the softball, called him on his crap:

MCHENRY: Well, look, all the fact points lead to one question: Did Rahm Emanuel or Nancy Pelosi have any involvement on the strategic or tactical level?.....

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence at all that Democrats or others might have been behind the timing of this scandal?

MCHENRY: Look, let's be honest...

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence to back that charge up?

MCHENRY: No, no, actually, if the Democrats had any issue with saying this, putting all the facts out on the table, they would say, certainly, I'll testify under oath that I had no involvement in it. They've said no.

BLITZER: Well, you don't have any evidence, though, right?

MCHENRY: Well, look at the fact points.

BLITZER: Yes or no, do you have any evidence, Congressman?

MCHENRY: Do you have any evidence that they weren't involved?

Amazing. It is pretty simple question, DO YOU HAVE ANY EVIDENCE? His response? Did so! Did not! Did so! Did not!


So, who's going?

Tonight, in Chicago, a fundraising event with Denny and the Liar in Chief!

Thursday's Countdown has a sweet swing

Billy Williams

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

While on that science-y thing...

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he needs support from a state Legislature that will help move Montana‘s agenda forward, ”not people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”

A wingnut state legislator named Roger Koopman called the statements "incredibly bigoted." A local paper reports that "Koopman said the governor `insulted many Christian people and other people of faith that arrived at that position other than the way I arrived at it.' Koopman said his belief in the Earth‘s age is not based on his faith, but on his scientific investigations."

Memo to Mr. Koopman--the governor is not a bigot. He may well be prejudiced, in the definitional sense that he has accurately "pre-judged" you and your ilk to be TOTAL F**KING MORONS. In John 3:16. Jesus did NOT say "that whoever believes in him and also acts like a total imbecile disregarding observational evidence in the physical world that would be persuasive even to single-celled organisms shall not perish but have eternal life. "

I'd write more, but I have to go and hide more of the fossil record as tests of faith.

There you go getting all science-y again

Question: Thank you, Mr. President. Back on Iraq. A group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war. That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December, at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure, and do you consider this a credible report?

The President: No, I don't consider it a credible report. Neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me and it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to -- that there's a level of violence that they tolerate. And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel at peace. No question, it's violent, but this report is one -- they put it out before, it was pretty well -- the methodology was pretty well discredited. But I talk to people like General Casey and, of course, the Iraqi government put out a statement talking about the report.

Yeah, nobody trusts those peer-reviewed studies published in The Lancet, you can't trust those wackos. And who ever heard of Johns Hopkins and MIT anyway?

Cognitive Dissonance..again

Cognitive Dissonance: A psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation....if someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know--particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge--they are likely to resist the new learning. (link)

Preznit Stumbly: We're helping this young democracy succeed.

Wednesday's Countdown was driven away by Bill Wirtz

Jeremy Roenick

On a lighter note

I, like most folks, get lots of spam. Thankfully, much of it gets filtered out, so I don't have to deal with it, but every so often something sneaks through. Today was a truly special one:

From: Christian Music Updates
Re: Pat Boone has a message for you

Apparently, he's got a new book coming out, and if I bought it, I'd also get free Pat Boone CD's, and copies of Christianity Today, Today's Christian Woman, and Mature Lifestyles.

The whole thing is sponsored by "Working Families for WalMart."

I am almost certain they could not have missed their target audience by more. Osama bin Laden is more likely to order this than I am.

The Right to Keep and Bear Stupidity Shall Not Be Infringed

School shootings prompt calls for gun control.

Calls for gun control prompt the uninformed to sputter "the Second Amendment!"

Sputterings of "the Second Amendment!" prompt me to remind those uninformed out there that the 2nd Amendment, under current settled law, protects no federal private right of ownership and has not been applied against the states via the 14th Amendment under "fundamental rights" analysis. See my earlier post here.

I just needed to see these words again

From Inherit the Wind:

Drummond: Can't you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we'll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!


Six hundred and fifty five thousand people.

That's the number of Iraqis killed during the war, since March 2003. Thirty one percent are from the US and our allies. Here's the text of the study, from Johns Hopkins University.

From the 1990 US Census, that's more people than live in any city in the US other than New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, Philly, SD, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Jose, Baltimore, Indy, or San Francisco.

It's more than Milwaukee. DC. Boston. Seattle. Cleveland. New Orleans. St. Louis.


Those of you who supported this war. Those who believed the lies. Those who gave in to fear and panic. Those who told the lies. Those who manipulated for political gain. Those who chose to go to war to gain power. Those who voted to give the President authorization to do whatever he wanted. And most especially

George Bush
Dick Cheney
Donald Rumsfeld
Condaleeza Rice
Colin Powell

May the dead visit you, awake and asleep, for eternity. Damn you all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why does Habeas Corpus hate America?

Here at The Thinker, we've mentioned the quaint provisions stated in the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus before.

Now, we know the Magna Carta is kind of vague, as is the way the US Constitution refers to said writ:

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

So, obviously, it's something that doesn't much matter, right?

Keith Olbermann did a special feature tonight on the issue. It's sarcastic, but pretty dead on.

One thing he points out is something that had been occuring to me lately - the President, despite his urgings of how important it was to pass this legislation RIGHT NOW GODDAMMIT!, still has not signed the bill.

More MCA06 Stuff

As Pete caught, I missed some parts of that wonderful bill. I read the html version, which was broken up in different sections without making that part clear, so that I could cut and paste (not an option from PDF). Anyway, thought you'd like to see this part as well:



(A) As provided by the Constitution and by this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

This, again, is crap. As I mentioned in a recent post, the Constitution provides no such authority to the President. Samuel Alito made it up when working for Reagan, and Bush uses it to consolidate power, ignore laws, and treat the Constitution as an airsick bag.

Question for the legally minded

So in my post below I quote and discuss a good portion of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It's pretty clear where it allows torture, and evidence gained through torture, to be admitted into the trial. It's also clear where the idea of search warrants gets thrown out the window.

On the other hand, I'm not a lawyer, so I might be missing some things. I don't see where (a) this is applicable to US citizens - specifically, that seems excluded by the following:" 948b - (a) Purpose - This chapter establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission." or (b) habeas corpus gets revoked.

Can someone help?

Ed. I think I may have found the habeas corpus part. It's not in the MCA, specifically, but in what it excludes from the UCMJ.

(d) Inapplicability of Certain Provisions- (1) The following provisions of this title shall not apply to trial by military commission under this chapter:

"The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation as provided in section 838 of this title (article 38) and in regulations prescribed under that section. At that investigation full opportunity shall be given to the accused to cross-examine witnesses against him if they are available and to present anything he may desire in his own behalf, either in defense or mitigation, and the investigation officer shall examine available witnesses requested by the accused. If the charges are forwarded after the investigation, they shall be accompanied by a statement of the substance of the testimony taken on both sides and a copy thereof shall be given to the accused."

Trying to understand the Military Commissions Act of 2006

I still haven't entirely processed how angry I am about this bill, and that bothers me, so I thought I'd start with something intellectual - reading the bill, and noting unnerving things.

Sec. 948b. Military commissions generally

(d) Inapplicability of Certain Provisions- (1) The following provisions of this title shall not apply to trial by military commission under this chapter:

(A) Section 810 (article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), relating to speedy trial, including any rule of courts-martial relating to speedy trial.

Any person subject to this chapter charged with an offense under this chapter shall be ordered into arrest or confinement, as circumstances may require; but when charged only with an offense normally tried by a summary court-martial, he shall not ordinarily be placed in confinement. When any person subject to this chapter is placed in arrest or confinement prior to trial, immediate steps shall be taken to inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him.

(B) Sections 831(a), (b), and (d) (articles 31(a), (b), and (d) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), relating to compulsory self-incrimination.

(a) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any questions the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.

(b) No person subject to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from an accused or a person suspected of an offense without first informing him of the nature of the accusation and advising him that he does not have to make any statement regarding the offense of which he is accused or suspected and that any statement made by him may be used as evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

(d) No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

(C) Section 832 (article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), relating to pretrial investigation.

(a) No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline.

(b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation as provided in section 838 of this title (article 38) and in regulations prescribed under that section. At that investigation full opportunity shall be given to the accused to cross-examine witnesses against him if they are available and to present anything he may desire in his own behalf, either in defense or mitigation, and the investigation officer shall examine available witnesses requested by the accused. If the charges are forwarded after the investigation, they shall be accompanied by a statement of the substance of the testimony taken on both sides and a copy thereof shall be given to the accused.

(c) If an investigation of the subject matter of an offense has been conducted before the accused is charged with the offense, and if the accused was present at the investigation and afforded the opportunities for representation, cross-examination, and presentation prescribed in subsection (b), no further investigation of that charge is necessary under this article unless it is demanded by the accused after he is informed of the charge. A demand for further investigation entitles the accused to recall witnesses for further cross-examination and to offer any new evidence in his own behalf.

(d) The requirements of this article are binding on all persons administering this chapter but failure to follow them does not constitute judicial error.

(f) Status of Commissions Under Common Article 3- A military commission established under this chapter is a regularly constituted court, affording all the necessary `judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples' for purposes of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

(g) Geneva Conventions Not Establishing Source of Rights- No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights.

Note: This confuses me. The commission affords all judicial guarantees from the GC, but people on trial cannot invoke the GC as a source of rights. Um, what?

Sec. 948r. Compulsory self-incrimination prohibited; treatment of statements obtained by torture and other statements

(a) In General- No person shall be required to testify against himself at a proceeding of a military commission under this chapter.

(b) Exclusion of Statements Obtained by Torture- A statement obtained by use of torture shall not be admissible in a military commission under this chapter, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.

(c) Statements Obtained Before Enactment of Detainee Treatment Act of 2005- A statement obtained before December 30, 2005 (the date of the enactment of the Defense Treatment Act of 2005) in which the degree of coercion is disputed may be admitted only if the military judge finds that--

(1) the totality of the circumstances renders the statement reliable and possessing sufficient probative value; and

(2) the interests of justice would best be served by admission of the statement into evidence.

(d) Statements Obtained After Enactment of Detainee Treatment Act of 2005- A statement obtained on or after December 30, 2005 (the date of the enactment of the Defense Treatment Act of 2005) in which the degree of coercion is disputed may be admitted only if the military judge finds that--

(1) the totality of the circumstances renders the statement reliable and possessing sufficient probative value;

(2) the interests of justice would best be served by admission of the statement into evidence; and

(3) the interrogation methods used to obtain the statement do not amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment prohibited by section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.

Now, if I'm reading this right (which is tough to tell), I think this says:

By 948r(b), we can't use statements gotten through torture (who's doing the torturing btw, huh?), unless the victim was also a torturer, and then we can't admit the statement, but acknowledge the statement was made. Umm, what?

We can't use statements where the "degree of coercion" is under question (ie, was the accused tortured) unless the commission decides that it has value and would serve justice. So, I think that says we can use whatever we want, as long as someone decides it has value. Torture stays in.

Sec. 949a. Rules

(2) In establishing procedures and rules of evidence for military commission proceedings, the Secretary of Defense may prescribe the following provisions:

(A) Evidence shall be admissible if the military judge determines that the evidence would have probative value to a reasonable person.

If the judge wants the evidence, it's in.

(B) Evidence shall not be excluded from trial by military commission on the grounds that the evidence was not seized pursuant to a search warrant or other authorization.

Search warrant, smearch warrant. For reference, here's the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

(C) A statement of the accused that is otherwise admissible shall not be excluded from trial by military commission on grounds of alleged coercion or compulsory self-incrimination so long as the evidence complies with the provisions of section 948r of this title.

(D) Evidence shall be admitted as authentic so long as--

(i) the military judge of the military commission determines that there is sufficient basis to find that the evidence is what it is claimed to be; and

(ii) the military judge instructs the members that they may consider any issue as to authentication or identification of evidence in determining the weight, if any, to be given to the evidence.

(E)(i) Except as provided in clause (ii), hearsay evidence not otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence applicable in trial by general courts-martial may be admitted in a trial by military commission if the proponent of the evidence makes known to the adverse party, sufficiently in advance to provide the adverse party with a fair opportunity to meet the evidence, the intention of the proponent to offer the evidence, and the particulars of the evidence (including information on the general circumstances under which the evidence was obtained). The disclosure of evidence under the preceding sentence is subject to the requirements and limitations applicable to the disclosure of classified information in section 949j(c) of this title.

(ii) Hearsay evidence not otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence applicable in trial by general courts-martial shall not be admitted in a trial by military commission if the party opposing the admission of the evidence demonstrates that the evidence is unreliable or lacking in probative value.

This seems to say that the judge can allow any evidence in he wants, hearsay, coercion, or otherwise.

Sec. 949d. Sessions

(f) Protection of Classified Information-

(1) NATIONAL SECURITY PRIVILEGE- (A) Classified information shall be protected and is privileged from disclosure if disclosure would be detrimental to the national security. The rule in the preceding sentence applies to all stages of the proceedings of military commissions under this chapter.

(B) The privilege referred to in subparagraph (A) may be claimed by the head of the executive or military department or government agency concerned based on a finding by the head of that department or agency that--

(i) the information is properly classified; and

(ii) disclosure of the information would be detrimental to the national security.

(C) A person who may claim the privilege referred to in subparagraph (A) may authorize a representative, witness, or trial counsel to claim the privilege and make the finding described in subparagraph (B) on behalf of such person. The authority of the representative, witness, or trial counsel to do so is presumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary.


(A) ALTERNATIVES TO DISCLOSURE- To protect classified information from disclosure, the military judge, upon motion of trial counsel, shall authorize, to the extent practicable--

(i) the deletion of specified items of classified information from documents to be introduced as evidence before the military commission;

(ii) the substitution of a portion or summary of the information for such classified documents; or

(iii) the substitution of a statement of relevant facts that the classified information would tend to prove.

(B) PROTECTION OF SOURCES, METHODS, OR ACTIVITIES- The military judge, upon motion of trial counsel, shall permit trial counsel to introduce otherwise admissible evidence before the military commission, while protecting from disclosure the sources, methods, or activities by which the United States acquired the evidence if the military judge finds that (i) the sources, methods, or activities by which the United States acquired the evidence are classified, and (ii) the evidence is reliable. The military judge may require trial counsel to present to the military commission and the defense, to the extent practicable and consistent with national security, an unclassified summary of the sources, methods, or activities by which the United States acquired the evidence.

(C) ASSERTION OF NATIONAL SECURITY PRIVILEGE AT TRIAL- During the examination of any witness, trial counsel may object to any question, line of inquiry, or motion to admit evidence that would require the disclosure of classified information. Following such an objection, the military judge shall take suitable action to safeguard such classified information. Such action may include the review of trial counsel's claim of privilege by the military judge in camera and on an ex parte basis, and the delay of proceedings to permit trial counsel to consult with the department or agency concerned as to whether the national security privilege should be asserted.

(3) CONSIDERATION OF PRIVILEGE AND RELATED MATERIALS- A claim of privilege under this subsection, and any materials submitted in support thereof, shall, upon request of the Government, be considered by the military judge in camera and shall not be disclosed to the accused.

(4) ADDITIONAL REGULATIONS- The Secretary of Defense may prescribe additional regulations, consistent with this subsection, for the use and protection of classified information during proceedings of military commissions under this chapter. A report on any regulations so prescribed, or modified, shall be submitted to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives not later than 60 days before the date on which such regulations or modifications, as the case may be, go into effect.

I think this says that the government (rightly) should be able to maintain that certain information should not be made public for reasons of national security or if disclosure would endanger sources in the field, but seems to provide only protections for the government and none for the accused. Also, section (3) is the scary one. If the government claims national security, the materials supporting that claim are never seen by the accused (BTW, I like how it's "accused" instead of "defendant"), but only by the judge.

I call top bunk!

American Prison Camps Are on the Way

By Marjorie Cohn

Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of Bush's "unlawful enemy combatants." Americans are certain to be among them.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."

Bush & Co. has portrayed the bill as a tough way to deal with aliens to protect us against terrorism. Frightened they might lose their majority in Congress in the November elections, the Republicans rammed the bill through Congress with little substantive debate.

Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush's list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies could be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

In which we learn how corrupt Dennis Hastert's aides are

I'm relatively new to the management game, but in the couple of years I've been doing it, one thing I've learned is that to be good at what I do, I have to take responsibility for the work done by the people "below" me (in an organizational sense). I helped hire them, and if they screw up, it reflects on me. I can't even imagine walking into a meeting with my fellow chairs if the people that worked for me were as corrupt as the GOP is right now.

Dennis Hastert, on the other hand, has no sense of shame.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Tuesday he'll dismiss anyone on his staff found to have covered up concerns about ex-Rep. Mark Foley's approaches to former pages.

Hastert, R-Illinois, said he huddled with his staff last week and in that, in hindsight, the situation could have been better handled.

But he added, "If they did cover something up, then they should not continue to have their jobs."

I thought the buck stopped with you, Denny. What does that mean? Does that mean that you pay a price, or just that you tell others what price they will pay?

Countdown Continues

Steve Larmer

Damn you, Kim Jong Il!

Damn you for your timing and your cruel sense of irony.

The timing is obvious, as our North Korean friend has knocked creepy Republicans off the front page. The ironic effect, though, is much more painful. An educated America should say "this represents another failure of the Bush administration. He rejected the Clinton approach of engagement and monitoring for for one that isolated and antagonized the regime. The president did nothing over the last five years as Kim became more publicly belligerent, announcing each step and seeing no response. Now he takes this fateful move at a time when the United States, due to presidential incompetence and malice, is stretched too thin and lacks sufficient international prestige to rationally respond."

But, alack and alas, we do not live in an educated, thoughtful America. We dwell in Retard America, which will inhale through its mouth and cry, "Protect us, Mr. Preznit!"

Good God.

And isn't it remarkable that each of the arms of the "axis of evil," Iran, Iraq ann North Korea, are a greater threat to us now than when the preznit first spoke those words?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sacrifice...and why we must not give up

First of all, I feel that I need to comment to Schmidlap's scathing excoriation of John Mayer. Schmidlap, his concert in November '02 was the scene of the first date with the now Mrs. Zinfandelfan (carrying Zinfandelfan 1.0, in beta version until release tentatively around 6.Feb). Having apparently fallen play to those who would do my musical tastes harm, I must now confirm with you whether or not artists I plan to listen to are worthy. Thanks.

Allow me to first say that I love my wife. Dearly. As a man on the radio once remarked, the continued generosity of women never ceased to amaze him. He's right. They're capable of amazing things.

This is the first year that I've been more than just a political bystander. I've voted Democratic in the past (don't think I ever punched straight ticket) and in the folly of my college yute even voted Perot. But to see what is happening with the country, its leadership and propogandist attacks being waged on the populous (knowing or otherwise), I felt the urge to get more involved.

So I've contributed out of my own pocket to candidates. Webb, Tester, Lamont, Seals, Laesch. I know that I should've contributed before Q3 closed, but I'm doing it now regardless. Over dinner tonight, I broached the subject with my wife that I felt that we should contribute. Since it's a 'we' thing, then it needs to be an 'us' discussion; if you're married you know how it goes.

She said that no, we don't have the money to contribute right now, what with a baby on the way and a nursery and furniture to pay for, as well as a lovely patio that doesn't get as much traffic as I'd like it to get. I posed it in the frame of, "I think we should make a sacrifice someplace to be able to afford this. Do you feel that we can and should?" "No."

When I tried to honestly further delve into the reasons, she said that I was the rabid political wonk of the family and she doesn't really feel as strongly and passionately about it as I do. She's right about that. I've usually got multiple windows running in Firefox pointed to the home pages of Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo and refreshing them every fifteen minutes or so during the day to see what's going on.

My wife doesn't like when I continue to ask badgering questions. I try to do it in my inside voice, but she's as stubborn as a tick when she's made up her mind and the reason she gave to me finally was that, "They're all politicians so they're all corrupt and crooked, anyways." I explained that I wasn't contributing to incumbents, but rather people trying to get rid of ones who do perpetuate that stereotype, but it still didn't move her.

We contributed last year to the Red Cross in the wake of Katrina, so I asked why we did that. She pointed out that we both thought it was a good idea. I then continued the prosecutor's line of questioning (quietly, politely, as she got more and more defensive and belligerent) to determine what made an in-your-face disaster worse than a slowly-growing-cancer disaster and, more importantly, wanted to know what it would take to move her off her position. She could offer me no answer and the way she started playing with her dinner informed me the conversation was done and she was pissed.

And it made me realize that this is the exact type of apathy that we have to overcome this year. This inertia of, "Doesn't matter to me now, doesn't impact my day-to-day way of life." We're fortunate, I guess, that we haven't had to make any sacrifices to this point; but it doesn't mean that others haven't. At last count, more than 2700 have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their families and friends grieve for something that isn't a little temporary pain; it's going to be a lifetime of pain. They'll never forget.

Schmidlap is fortunate to be in the futures business. He's used to thinking and contemplating what the long position is on things. My wife sees many things in the here and now; she couldn't and still doesn't see the benefits of replacing the lights in our home with LED bulbs for the long term energy savings. She sees that the bulbs are a) expensive and b) we've still got other bulbs and aren't we wasting our money throwing them away? When you run the long numbers, yes, it's an expensive investment now, but the savings is tremendous.

But I'm not going to let this get me down. We live in Judy Biggert's district; another great rubber stamp. I've met her and her chief of staff through work, and it makes for interesting feelings of conflict I've yet to sort out in reconciling my personal and professional agendas as it comes to interacting with the Illinois Congressional delegation. Since Joseph Shannon hasn't done dick to make it a fight here (he's got two strikes in my book, pro-life AND a graduate of the University of Notre Dame law school), I just signed up online to volunteer for John Laesch and Tammy Duckworth.

We're into the home stretch; it's four weeks from tomorrow. We're all busy and have work, family and other pressures. But these people who are running to take back our country are sacrificing THEIR lives for the betterment of their constituents and ultimately for us all. They've taken the long position; shouldn't we?

Found in the comments

From the always insightful schmidlap:

Innocent until proven guilty is the established procedure in criminal courts of law in the US.

This is not a criminal court of law; this is a blog.

Hope that helps.

More yard signs

We've also got a passel of signs up in our yard (a first time for me). We've got the ones supporting the local Democratic candidates for state and national office -

David Gill, running against incumbent rubber stamp Tim Johnson in the IL 15th.

Naomi Jakobsson, state House.

Mike Freirichs, state Senate.

And, of course, the big one - on one side it says "Impeach Bush/Cheney - Vote Yes", and on the other side is says "Get US out of Iraq Now - Vote Yes".

I'm waiting to see if our house gets vandalized.

A Tale of Two Signs

I noticed two campaign-style signs in a yard not far from me. One (actually, there were half a dozen of them) said "Support Our Troops!" An admirable idea. I do--my nephew is one of them. But we all know that is code for "Support George's War!" and the attendant deaths, maimings, rapes, mayhem and lawlessness.

The other sign was--"We Vote Pro-Life!"

Pro-life, pro-war, together in one very neat and disturbing little hypocritical package.

Philosophical Differences - Part I

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to. - Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, A Few Good Men

Sometimes, when a professional sports team fires their coach, they annouce that they made the decision because of "philosophical differences." This is to be polite, of course - in normal society, a certain amount of value is placed on a sense of decorum and politeness. In politics, of course, that all goes out the window. We're all guilty of it. Sometimes it bothers me (as it did during the Illinois Gubernatorial debate between inveterate crook Rod Blagoyevich and inveterate crook Judy Baar Topinka - it will take years to clean all the mud off the stage). So let's discuss the upcoming election without the usual invective.

Why do I not support George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al? We don't believe in the same things. In his amazing book, "Don't Think of an Elephant," George Lakoff discusses the idea of "framing", and that Republicans and Democrats tend to look at the role of government differently. One of his points is that traditionally, Republicans take the "father-child" approach to governing, while Democrats take a "mother-child" approach. Of course, this is a generalization, but the idea is that those on the right prefer a system where there is a right and a wrong, and rewards come to those who do right and punishment goes to those who do wrong. The arbiter of what is right or wrong in that family model is the father, and they believe that is what a government should do as well. And not right or wrong as in legal or illegal, but as in "Do you do everything you can to make money to support yourself?" or "Do you do the right thing to protect yourself against danger?". If you do, then you will get rewarded. If you do not, you will get punished.

The current political leadership in the country has taken this idea to a new level. Not only is there a right and a wrong, and the "right" should get rewarded and the "wrong" punished, but those who make the decisions on right vs. wrong are an ever-shrinking group, based entirely on wealth and cronyism, and the rewards and punishments are growing towards both extremes. The "right" people are those who support the powerful, and take their words as unquestionably true, and those who question the government are wrong. Being "different" is also wrong - being gay, being poor, not being an evangelical Christian, being anti-war. If you're right, the rewards are great - tax cuts, friendship from the powerful, the feeling of belonging to the best of the best. If you're wrong, the punishments are growing - ostracism, bigotry, poor taxes, even imprisonment and torture without trial.

In their model, the power belongs with a particular group of elites - politically, in the executive branch, where a small group of (mostly) men will decide what is right and wrong for the nation, and ideally the world. They collect more power, mostly from those who wish to be part of the elite, or who wish favors from the elite. Dissension has no place, since it puts at risk the belief that the powerful are always right.

Listen to President Bush's recent public appearances. His anger is growing - not at the terrorists, or those who wish the United States harm, but at those who disagree with him. Those who challenge his power. Those who are not his political allies. He is the decider. When you were six, and your dad told you to do something, or you'd get in trouble, you didn't look at him and say "That's not part of the familial social contract." You were scared of him. He was an authority figure, and often the absolute one - "wait until your father comes home." That's the role President Bush and his comrades want for the presidency, in perpetuity.

Now, here's what powers the executive branch was granted, in the US Constitution:

Article. II. - Section 1 just deals with how a President is elected, so I'll leave it out here, except for clause 8.

Clause 8: Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Note that the President does not take an oath to defend the country, or the flag, or Jesus, but the Constitution of the United States.

Section. 2.

Clause 1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

This is where those who argue for a more powerful executive branch draw their argument. But notice clearly what it says - "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy". So the President is, indeed, the supreme military commander of our armed forces, but there is nothing relating to the expansion of presidential powers in wartime.

he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

So the President has the power to get opinions from people and to pardon people guilty of crimes short of impeachment. Nothing in there about imprisoning people.

Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Clause 3: The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

The President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, can do a bunch of stuff - make treaties and appoint people to jobs. Again, nothing about the expansion of powers during wartime.

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

The President will give a speech every year. The President will call Congress to session and tell them to do stuff. The President will take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed (herein we get signing statements, from those who believe that the President can decide what "faithfully" means).

Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

And the President and other members of the executive branch can be removed from office.

You can look at the amendments as well - none of them give additional powers to the executive branch. There are term limits, and changes in electoral processes, but that's it.

In Part II of this, I'll take a look at the Federalist Papers, which aren't at the same level as the Constitution, but speak directly to the intent of the framers.

Charlie Kraut-for-Brains Gives Yet Another Reason to Fight "Over There"

I read Charlie Kraut-for-Brains so that you don't have to...

As published on the Op/Ed page of today's Chicago Tribune, our favorite dimimutive neo-con makes his case for ignoring the bad news from the leaked National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)

Ah, but those seers in the U.S. "intelligence community," speaking though a leaked NIE - the most famous previous NIE, mind you, concluded that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, slam dunk - ... (came to) the conclusion that (the Iraq War) has made us less safe because it has become a "cause celebre" and rallying cry for jihadists
This kind of duplicitous prose is Charlie's speciality. On the one hand he maligns THIS NIE because a previous NIE had bad info about WMDs. Fair enough, but wait - in previous op/ed pieces Charlie has bent over backwards to blame the bad info of the earlier NIE on CLINTON, and that the McLiar/Vader junta fixed all of that. However, now that inconvenient truths have been outed, all of a sudden the intelligence community gets belittling quotation marks placed around it and their NIE is no good?
Charlie spends the next several column inches explaining how Osama and his minions have been plotting the destruction of everything good and holy, and that Iraq is the central front in the "War on Turr." Then he gives up this nugget: "(D)oes anyone imagine that had the jihadists in Iraq remained home they would now be tending petunias rather than plotting terror attacks?" And so he begins to construct the world's most reliable straw man to knock down. We're taking the fight to them, on "their soil." Of course, he conveniently forgets to point out that there were NO JIHADISTS TO SPEAK OF in Iraq before the current debacle, nor was Baathist Iraq a sponsor of jihadists. No, instead he points to al-Quaeda in Iraqs assessment that they've lost 4K jihadists in their fight with the coalition of the willing, and states, "It is clear that one of the reasons we have gone an ASTONISHING FIVE YEARS without a second attack on the American homeland is that the most dedicated and virulent jihadists have gone to Iraq to fight us... "over there." and then decapitates his straw man with his statement that the only way for our nation to become safe again is for our side to come out victorious in our war against the jihadists.
OK, see here's the problem... How do we know that we've won, so we can declare victory? How many jihadists are there? Where do they live? Do we need to brainwash them, reeducate them, disappear them, exterminate them? You and your neo-con buddies have taken us down through the rabbit hole, and I fear that we'll have a great deal of trouble clawing our way back.

This one really bothers me

I was offered a lieutenant's commission in the Navy JAG Corps coming out of law school, an offer I reluctantly turned down. Seeing the following really angers and saddens me. Sounds like the guy is a heck of a lawyer, the kind you would like to keep.

No promotion for Navy lawyer who took on Bush (

MIAMI -- The Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration's military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military, the Miami Herald reported Sunday. Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, will retire under the military's ''up or out'' promotion system.

Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to commander. He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden's driver. ''All I ever wanted was to make a difference--and in that sense I think my career and personal satisfaction has been beyond my dreams,'' Swift said.

Some things need no comment

Support Bush (link)

President Bush needs to be supported, not berated, by world leaders and the American public, regardless of party affiliations. The recent remarks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were obviously intended to undermine the Christian policies on which this nation was founded and which President Bush supports and defends. Let�s stop the criticism and rally behind a man who has the support of our troops in Iraq, other right-thinking U.S. citizens and the help of God for the pursuit of life, liberty and justice for all.

Allen Diener
Schiller Park

Surprise countdown draw play

Dennis Gentry

Sunday, October 08, 2006

This is too noxious for dumbass

The line below does not come from some mouthbreather like Loree Kowalski (see below) in a letter to the editor. This comes FROM the editor, an editorial in the Chicago Tribune in response to calls for a partitioning of Iraq:
A splintered Iraq means that it will never emerge as a bulwark for democracy and freedom in the Arab world.
And I'll never probably get a pony.

The unspoken assumption is that this ill-conceived fraud of a "government" that 1) was imposed from outside by an occupying power, 2) has no internal credibility and 3) cannot even control its capital, even with U.S. military presence may one day "emerge as a bulwark for democracy and freedom."

The odds are better that I'll get a pony.

A repeat winner

One of our first dumbass winners was Loree Kowalis of Orland Park, Illinois, who wrote how the big, bad liberals were attacking Christmas. Today, though, she gives us this gem:
The sad thing about this Foley scandal is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are free of guilt. If the Democrats cared so much about the welfare of this young page and Mark Foley’s acts that could harm others, why was this information held so long and released so strategically before elections? And if the Republicans knew of this behavior and covered it up, that’s despicable as well.
Loree, Loree, Loree....

First of all, it was not ONE page, the man was a serial predator abusing these children for years. Nice talking point, though. Then you claim with no evidence that mysterious "Democrats" held the information. Who? When? Sorry, Loree, this is a 100% Republican scandal, causes by Republicans, covered up by Republicans.

She then whines
There’s a clear lack of integrity and moral character on both sides
OK, talking point #2. Both sides, Loree? Did we have senior officials at the White House indicted , and some pleading guilty, were Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney and Tom Delay Democrats? Were we stealing stuff from Target? How much money did Jack Abramoff give to Democrats? Nice try, Loree, but say it with me...

Sunday countdown

Rickey Henderson