May 23, 2009 archive

Late Night Karaoke

Big Hair Big Noise


President Obama’s proposal for a new legal system in which terrorism suspects could be held in “prolonged detention” inside the United States without trial would be a departure from the way this country sees itself, as a place where people in the grip of the government either face criminal charges or walk free.

There are, to be sure, already some legal tools that allow for the detention of those who pose danger: quarantine laws as well as court precedents permitting the confinement of sexual predators and the dangerous mentally ill. Every day in America, people are denied bail and locked up because they are found to be a hazard to their communities, though they have yet to be convicted of anything.

Still, the concept of preventive detention is at the very boundary of American law, and legal experts say any new plan for the imprisonment of terrorism suspects without trial would seem inevitably bound for the Supreme Court.

Mr. Obama has so far provided few details of his proposed system beyond saying it would be subject to oversight by Congress and the courts. Whether it would be constitutional, several of the legal experts said in interviews, would most likely depend on the fairness of any such review procedures.

Ultimately, they suggested, the question of constitutionality would involve a national look in the mirror: Is this what America does?

“We have these limited exceptions to the principle that we only hold people after conviction,” said Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell. “But they are narrow exceptions, and we don’t want to expand them because they make us uncomfortable.”

In his speech on antiterrorism policy Thursday, Mr. Obama, emphasizing that he wanted fair procedures, sought to distance himself from what critics of the Bush administration saw as its system of arbitrary detention.

“In our constitutional system,” Mr. Obama said, “prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man.”…

Neocons want to start killing journalists through military attacks

JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, recently published a report written by a retired American Army Colonel who says:

“Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

“The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win.

The article from which I am getting this information, here, at, written by Jeremy Scahill, says the following about JINSA:

The organization has long boasted an all-star cast of criminal “advisers,” among them Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, John Bolton, and Douglas Feith. JINSA, along with the Project for a New American Century, was one of the premiere groups in shaping U.S. policy during the Bush years and remains a formidable force with Obama in the White House.

Bill Maher says no to superheroes and no to normal people, so what does he want?

I usually really like Bill Maher, but today I think he is confused.  Tonight on the “New Rules” feature of Real Time, he started off his final new rule by saying that we can’t solve our problems by electing superheroes.  Spiderman, he said, punches bank robbers in the balls, while Obama just writes them a check.  And he went on to give a really terrible rant about governmental reform that was just dead wrong.

Crossposted at

Random Japan

Foreigners and other animals

A sea otter named Ku-chan who has been hanging out on a stretch of river in Kushiro, Hokkaido, was granted special residency status by the city. It’s said that Ku-chan attracts ¥50 million a month in tourism to the area.

A pair of political activists from Myanmar who had been living illegally in Japan for a decade were finally granted refugee status late last month. The men are reportedly ruing their decision to struggle for human rights and freedom, instead of becoming revenue-generating sea otters.

The foreign ministry announced that it would slash the housing allowance it provides refugees while their applications for asylum are being processed. The goal is to halve the number of asylum seekers as soon as possible.

Headline of the Week: “Paranoid Hospitals Turning away Those with Fever, or with a Foreign Friend” (via the Mainichi Daily News).

Welcome New Users

I’d like to extend a genuine welcome to people who are joining the site out of a desire to find a spot that is a little port of orange.  When I joined dK it was to find a place where I could express myself without the fear that I might expose myself as a (shudder) Democrat.

And have no doubt about it, I am a yellow dog Democrat who stopped voting Republican even for dog catcher many years ago.

Equally I am interested in Democratic electoral victory since I understand that only with overwhelming majorities will our supposed Representatives overcome their craven, cowardly instincts and occasionally be persuaded to do the right thing.  Indeed I think the emergence of a Democratic Democratic Party can only occur after the Republican Party, the party of thieves, murderers, despots, and liars, is as dead as the Whigs so our Representatives can no longer threaten us like gangsters to choose the lesser of two evils.

Nice little country you’ve got here, shame if anything happened to it.  Vote for me.

I understand the mission of dK and agree with it, but I don’t agree with them on all things.  To choose a trivial but early example, I think the 0ne Diary A Day policy is stultifying and unnecessary and I have expressed that sentiment on numerous occasions.

When buhdy provided me the opportunity to be a Contributing Editor and later Admin here I was grateful for the opportunity to help shape a system that addressed some of the flaws I perceived.

Which is not to say that there aren’t rules and procedures.

Funkalicious Friday

Overnight Caption Contest

John Roberts


In “No More Mr. Nice Guy“, Jeffrey Toobin examines how Chief Justice John Roberts is “the Supreme Court’s stealth hard-liner” in a detailed and very readable 7,500-word essay in this week’s The New Yorker. The article is well worth reading.

Toobin traces Roberts’ career as a trustworthy conservative legal footsoldier from his law school years at Harvard to his clerkship to then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist to his years in and out of public service to his first four years at the head of the nation’s highest court. Throughout his essay, Toobin reminds the reader that Roberts, born on January 27, 1955, is the youngest person on the Court veering to the right as the rest of the nation, largely, drifts to the left.

While many on the left saw through Roberts’ personable nature to see that he was the purest product of the conservative movement, unfortunately not enough Senators did. The conventional wisdom on Roberts is that he is a moderate.

But, Roberts’ moderation is his public relations front. “The Chief Justice talks the talk of moderation while walking the walk of extreme conservatism,” according to Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard.

Namby pamby NIMBY? Vincent Van Gogh was short!

For centuries Americans stood tall in the world.  Literally.  It would appear that the Dutch are now taller than us.  The average Dutch man is 6’1″, whereas his American counterpart is 5’9″, only one inch taller than the average Dutch woman.  Jiminy crickets: In one century they’ve had to redesign their ceilings and doorways and put extensions on the their beds!  They’re better looking and smarter!  Tall dudes make more money!  And get better chicks.  They are now using their advantage in stature to question our manliness.  Because of the situation down at Guantanamo–the fact that we’re piss-scared of giving due process to the detainees in American courts– the towering Dutch are calling us “pussies.”

If you live outside of the US, or the US centric bubble, then the incredible stupidity of the this viewpoint is obvious.

Where does the World Court reside? It resides in the Hague in the Netherlands. the Netherlands has a population of 16 million (that are not allowed to bear arms or such).

The world courts deals with the worst of the worst, anything in Gitmo pails to what these folks have done.

Let’s take those war criminals (of which dozens have been tried and sentenced) from the Balkan conflict as an example. Here is a group that still has lots of support (Serbs primarily) all across Europe. They are in cells in the Hague which is driving distance from their homeland. Not like some poor Afghan farmer totally divorced from his people, these people have strong support living with a few hours drive!! Almost nothing could stop them from attacking and trying to release there leaders (and heros), or at least taking revenge on the country they are incarcerated in. The REAL danger to this court pails to anything the perceived Gitmo people could possibly do.

Just look at the history of the Balkan conflict, its horrible geenocide and the people who did the killing, and then grab a map to see where the two countries lie, you will get the picture. Then do the same for the Afghan conflict … Kinda makes you giggle.

But, do you hear the good people of the Netherlands on the streets demanding these criminals leave or cowering under their beds at night? No, it just might be that not all folks in the globe are NIMBY and some have the balls to realize that freedom comes at a price, and you never know when you will have to pay up in full.

Could it be that a small country in “old” Europe has more balls than the gun toting folk wingnuts of the US have?


Friday Night at 8: When the Debate is Over

It’s fashionable now for even the right wing to invoke how wonderful Martin Luther King was, now THERE was a nice gentleman!

I remember at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, the talking heads on the teevee were aghast at the Reverend Lowery’s eulogy where he dared bring up … gasp! … politics!

A brief example:

“She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar,” Lowery said. “We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we knew, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.”

I remember the discussions at the orange about this and was shocked when there were many who agreed Lowery was out of line saying such things at a funeral.  Propriety was important.  This did our cause no good.  Etc., etc.

Of course, Martin Luther King didn’t hesitate to call folks out at a eulogy he gave for the young girls killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing:

And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.

See, Martin Luther King won his struggle, in the sense of changing the frame of how Americans view civil rights.  I’m not saying the struggle is over, but the moral force of his message is such that even the most bigoted folks will give lip service to respecting him.

But it wasn’t so clear at the time.

Obama’s Honorary Degree In Cosmotology

Human rights advocates are growing deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama’s stance on these issues, especially his recent move to block the release of photographs showing abuse of detainees, and his announcement that he is willing to try terrorism suspects in military commissions – a concept he criticized bitterly as a presidential candidate.

The two participants, outsiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was intended to be off the record, said they left the meeting dismayed.

They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about “the long game” – how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents. He raised the issue of preventive detention himself, but made clear that he had not made a decision on it. Several senior White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the outsiders’ accounts.…

If I have to choose a side, there’s no contest.

National Lawyers Guild sprung me out of the joint more times then the Democrats so only rollin’ with the civil liberties/human rights/anti-war/non-profit groups when it comes time to pick a side and they’re saying that Obama isn’t being cool with them.

So now, we got problems.


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