Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Cheese Stands Alone

Bruce Fein, who was Reagan's Associate Deputy Attorney General, has penned a scathing editorial -- calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, stating:

"Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III."
In his Slate piece, Impeach Vice President Cheney, Fein notes:

Under Dick Cheney, the office of the vice president has been transformed from a tiny acorn into an unprecedented giant oak. In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president's insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution. The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney's multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.
He reminds us of the OVP and its place in history pre-Cheney:
The nation's first vice president, John Adams, bemoaned: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet common fate." Vice President John Nance Garner, serving under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, lamented: "The vice presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss." In modern times, vice presidents have generally been confined to attending state funerals or to distributing blankets after earthquakes.
And he compares it with the current occupant:

Then President George W. Bush outsourced the lion's share of his presidency to Vice President Cheney, and Mr. Cheney has made the most of it. Since 9/11, he has proclaimed that all checks and balances and individual liberties are subservient to the president's commander in chief powers in confronting international terrorism.

Fein then proceeds to review the lamentable record of abuses and excesses, which range from creation of military commissions, to kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture, from signing statements to warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens, from the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to the evisceration of freedom of speech and of the press. A stinging indictment of the Lawless Administration, to be sure -- from a member of the Republican Party, no less.

A must read precis. Fein finally describes the impact upon our system of government:

The Constitution does not expressly forbid the president from abandoning his chief powers to the vice president. But President Bush's tacit delegation to Cheney and Cheney's eager acceptance tortures the Constitution's provision for an acting president. The presidency and vice presidency are discrete constitutional offices. The 12th Amendment provides for their separate elections. The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties.

In contrast, Article II enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the president, including the obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. A special presidential oath is prescribed. Section 3 of the 25th Amendment provides a method for the president to yield his office to the vice president, when "he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." There is no other constitutional provision for transferring presidential powers to the vice president.

Yet without making a written transmittal to Congress, President Bush has ceded vast domains of his powers to Vice President Cheney by mutual understanding that circumvents the 25th Amendment. This constitutional provision assures that the public and Congress know who is exercising the powers of the presidency and who should be held responsible for successes or failures. The Bush-Cheney dispensation blurs political accountability by continually hiding the real decision-maker under presidential skirts. . . .

In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.

What are we waiting for? See A Long Shot is Still a Shot.

And don't miss the final piece, Leaving No Tracks, in the 4-part Washington Post series on Cheney. See also, The Dastardly Despot, for my earlier post on the series. And see also, Eugene Robinson's op-ed, 'Angler' For Power.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Fakins

Back in November of last year, I wrote about the announced sale of the Eakins masterpiece The Gross Clinic by Thomas Jefferson University, see The Clinic Sale is Gross, which caused much consternation and controversy, culminating in the joint purchase of the painting by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, see Just One More Time.

Since then, TJU sold another Eakins painting to the original Gross Clinic purchaser, the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, which is to be built by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. Now comes word that it's last Eakins painting has been sold, Jefferson sells off its last Eakins. Having weathered the spate of bad press in its handling of the sale of the first piece, Jefferson apparently decided to forge ahead in similar fashion:

Thomas Jefferson University has sold the last of its three large paintings by Thomas Eakins, the Portrait of Professor William S. Forbes, a 1905 masterwork commissioned by the university community in honor of its great anatomy professor, surgeon and activist.

Jefferson officials declined to disclose the price paid for the painting or the name of the private buyer. The sale, consummated Wednesday, was brokered by Christie's auction house.

Officials of the Jefferson alumni association, who have opposed similar recent sales by the university, said Wednesday that they had not been informed a sale had been made.

In a brief statement issued to Jefferson employees late Tuesday, Jefferson board chairman Brian Harrison said that 'a reproduction of the portrait will be placed in the University's Eakins Gallery' now that the painting has been dispatched.

That gallery once housed Eakins' masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, which the university sold late last year for $68 million to a partnership of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The massive canvas is currently on view at the academy; the two institutions will share it.

The reproduction of The Gross Clinic, now in the Eakins Gallery in the 1000 block of Locust Street, has become known as "the Fakins," according to university staff.

It's important to remember that selling off the art was not necessary for the survival of the institution; instead, it was just an easy way to raise money for expansion. Moreover, University administration obviously doesn't believe it is answerable to its constituencies in making decisions of this nature. And even worse, the art was given to the University by donations from alumni and other members of the community. As the Inquirer notes:

But the university community specifically commissioned the Forbes portrait, which was paid for by contributions from alumni and students, and presented at Jefferson's 80th annual commencement in Forbes' honor at the end of his long career.

Lorraine King, head of the Jefferson alumni association, said Wednesday that she had not known of the sale. She said the news made her "feel sick."

* * * *

"They didn't say a word to us" about the Forbes, said King. "They don't want any publicity."

One could only hope that the community responds in kind -- with the power of the purse -- by withholding any contributions to TJU.

As for the fate of the Eakins pieces, as Lee of CultureGrrl said of the last sale of an Eakins to Wal-Mart heiress (after her unsuccessful attempt to get the Gross Clinic), If at First Alice Walton Doesn't Succeed... ...she tries again...and wins. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out that Walton was the owner of the Forbes portrait as well.

It's a fitting end to this story. Jeff's version of art -- The Eakins Gallery -- is now merely a website showing what was and a room with a few fakes. When you've already sold your soul, who needs the real thing?

Cartoon of the Day

* Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Way Out

Summer vacation season is beginning, but for many, the long-awaited trip abroad instead has become a nightmare filled with stress, anxiety and for too many -- dashed hopes.

One of our office assistants has been planning a trip to Ireland with her family for almost a year and the scheduled trip is less than 2 weeks away. One problem -- no passports, even though they applied months ago.

Their story sounds a lot like that of Brian Tamanaha of Balkinization, Travelers Beware: Or Be Caught in a Bureaucratic Nightmare:

On April 4th, my wife and I went to the post office with all the documents required to renew our seven-year-old son’s passport. After waiting only an hour and a half in line, the courteous clerk efficiently handled the paperwork and assured us that we would receive the passport by mail within eight weeks.

That was almost three months ago. My wife is taking the kids to visit her family abroad. The departure date is this Sunday, July 1. We have paid for non-refundable tickets in the amount of $2,400. Everyone is excited, especially her parents, who see their grandchildren only once a year.

The only problem is that the passport has not arrived.
It seems that the Bush Administration has found the full proof security safeguard. Don't let anyone out of the country, so it will cut down on the influx of travelers to the US. We are perfectly safe from ourselves.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently wrote about the situation, in The wait for a passport: A bad trip for travelers:
In February, it required patience, planning and, often, the right alignment of the planets to get a passport in time for a trip abroad.

Now it practically requires a miracle.

The long, short-tempered lines at Philadelphia's U.S. Passport Agency at Chestnut and Second Streets start forming at 5 a.m. and wind around the corner, at times stretching two city blocks. At 9 a.m., when the office opens, federal marshals escort the hopeful into the building in groups of 15.

Among the hundreds of would-be travelers who queue up every day, there are usually a few who already have had to miss their trip, though they applied months ago in what they were told was plenty of time.

* * * *

The State Department has been hammered with criticism for underestimating the response to the new travel regulations, which were put in place as part of a congressional mandate for increased security after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Officials had planned for a significant increase in applications, but the numbers far exceeded expectations. The Philadelphia Passport Agency has been particularly busy, since it is one of 14 centers in the nation, and one of the few on the East Coast, where citizens may appear in person to obtain passports and receive one that day. People regularly come from New York and as far away as Ohio to stand in line.

The stories of agonizing attempts to deal with the passport offices, frustrated by confusing, inconsistent information provided and finally, missed trips (along with the financial loss of non-refundable tickets and other reservations) is just yet another example of the failure of our government to function at even the most basic level.

As MSNBC's The Red Tape Chronicles says, Passport problems trap citizens in U.S.:

With so much fighting going on about people who want to get into the country, we didn't realize how hard it is to get out. Chaos at the U.S. Passport office has left thousands of travelers stranded stateside, many of them holding useless airplane and cruise tickets -- a situation one critic calls 'reverse Ellis Island.'

By stranding travelers . . . the State Department has shown it cannot handle the demands of increased security. After all, if the office's computers and personnel cannot handle a completely predictable increase in passport applications, how can it be expected to keep out terrorists?

See also, WhirledView for a collection of complaints and suggestions on how to deal with passport problems.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Dastardly Despot



For someone for whom media attention is anathema, Cheney must be having his share of agita.

There is the whole issue of Cheney declaring himself outside the bounds of the Executive Branch, see Talking Points Memo, and therefore outside the scope of the oversight rules for protecting classified information. Above is Jon Stewart's brilliant take on this. See also, Countdown: Above The Law. His former aide, Libby, is on his way to jail (barring a last minute pardon). The Lawless Administration is going through some hard times, with its various "wartime" policies being found to be beyond the pale. For example, Sidney Blumenthal writes, of the Imperial presidency declared null and void, where even the Administration's once loyal, conservative insiders recognize that the end is near:

Yet another Bush legal official, even now at the commanding heights of power, admits that the administration's policies are largely discredited. In its defense, he says without a hint of irony or sarcasm, "Not everything we've done has been illegal." He adds, "Not everything has been ultra vires" -- a legal term referring to actions beyond the law.
See also, Digby at Hullabaloo Court Defectors.

Now that the Administration is lurking in the toilet bowl of popularity, the Washington Post figures it's time to take on Cheney in a devastating 4-part, in-depth piece, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. It's a must read character study of the man.

Sunday's article, A Different Understanding With the President Monday's piece, Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power, and today's A Strong Push From Back Stage, are detailed, devastating portraits of Cheney as the Operator in Chief, pulling the strings for a malleable President Puppet.

As was noted in the first installment:

Waxing or waning, Cheney holds his purchase on an unrivaled portfolio across the executive branch. Bush works most naturally, close observers said, at the level of broad objectives, broadly declared. Cheney, they said, inhabits an operational world in which means are matched with ends and some of the most important choices are made. When particulars rise to presidential notice, Cheney often steers the preparation of options and sits with Bush, in side-by-side wing chairs, as he is briefed.

Before the president casts the only vote that counts, the final words of counsel nearly always come from Cheney.

Detailing the extent of his role in the torture policy adopted by the Administration, the Post's second part says of Cheney:
The vice president's unseen victories attest to traits that are often ascribed to him but are hard to demonstrate from the public record: thoroughgoing secrecy, persistence of focus, tactical flexibility in service of fixed aims and close knowledge of the power map of government. On critical decisions for more than six years, Cheney has often controlled the pivot points -- tipping the outcome when he could, engineering stalemate when he could not and reopening debates that rivals thought were resolved.

'Once he's taken a position, I think that's it,' said James A. Baker III, who has shared a hunting tent with Cheney more than once and worked with him under three presidents. 'He has been pretty damn good at accumulating power, extraordinarily effective and adept at exercising power.'
The third installment discusses domestic policies, especially the power of the purse, and Cheney's hidden hand in those areas, in A Strong Push From Back Stage:
Cheney has changed history more than once, earning his reputation as the nation's most powerful vice president. His impact has been on public display in the arenas of foreign policy and homeland security, and in a long-running battle to broaden presidential authority. But he has also been the unseen hand behind some of the president's major domestic initiatives.

Scores of interviews with advisers to the president and vice president, as well as with other senior officials throughout the government, offer a backstage view of how the Bush White House operates. The president is 'the decider,' as Bush puts it, but the vice president often serves up his menu of choices.

Cheney led a group that winnowed the president's list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Cheney resolved a crisis in the space program after the Columbia shuttle disaster. Cheney fashioned a controversial truce between the legislative and executive branches -- and averted resignations at the top of the Justice Department and the FBI -- over the right of law enforcement authorities to investigate political corruption in Congress.

And it was Cheney who served as the guardian of conservative orthodoxy on budget and tax matters.
Cheney's unparalleled power over the presidency and the government apparatus can be summed up as:
Cheney's power derives in part from meticulous preparation paired with a strong will to prevail. He knows what he wants, and as one rival put it, Cheney and his staff are "just ferocious negotiators."
The Anonymous Liberal has also been following the series in the Post and has been providing highlights of some of the important revelations.

And even Maureen Dowd had to get in on the act, with her A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy (via Rozius Unbound).

Lucky for the Dickster that Paris Hilton gets her get out of jail free card today. He probably pulled strings to make that happen to deflect any more attention from him.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cartoon of the Day


* Steve Kelley, Times-Picayune

They Beat the Pants off Him

Justice prevails. The decision in the "case of the purloined pants," a/k/a the matter of the DC Administrative Law Judge Pearson vs. the Dry Cleaners, has been rendered. See Hell Hath No Fury . . . and Another Pair of Pants for details on the case.

The D.C. administrative law judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaner for $54 million over a pair of lost pants found out this morning what he's going to get for all his troubles.

Nothing. (Emphasis added)

See Plaintiff Gets Nothing in $54M Case of Missing Pants.

Right. He got precisely what he deserved. The pants beat off him. As Marc Fisher of the Post's Raw Fisher explained:

In an extremely cautious and detailed ruling, D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff this morning said that Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson deserves not a penny of the $67 million that he once demanded in compensation for a mixup at his neighborhood dry cleaners.

But astonishingly, Bartnoff said not a word in her decision about Pearson's handling of the case, or about the size of his demand, or about the bizarre scale of his legal assault on the immigrant family who own Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE.

Perhaps the judge didn't need to: She spoke with her actions instead, awarding the Chung family the costs of the case--an unusual move in a civil case in which each side would ordinarily be expected to pay their own costs. (But awarding costs is not the same as awarding attorney's fees--the big financial blow in any legal matter--and Judge Bartnoff said she would make that decision at a later date.) The Chungs were laid low by Pearson's two-year pursuit of the case; their legal fees wiped out their savings and forced them to consider moving back to their native land of South Korea."
The Washington Post article noted of Pearson:

Financially, he could soon be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred by the owners of Customer Cleaners. Attorneys for the Chungs have said they will seek such payments, as well as sanctions against Pearson for bringing the lawsuit. Bartnoff said in her ruling that she would decide those issues after both sides have filed their motions, counter-motions and legal briefs.

Professionally, Pearson could find himself out of his $96,000-a-year job as an administrative law judge for the District government.

Unfortunately, I would guess that he has little in the way of assets to pay the costs and legal fees, even if awarded to the Chungs. Hopefully, at least he will have to pay by being denied the ALJ position, since he clearly doesn't have the judicial temperament to sit in judgment of anyone.

UPDATE (6/27): Marc Fisher of the Washington Post confirms the view that an attorney fee award would likely be a hollow victory for the Chungs, since Pearson has few, if any assets to pay the award. See A Scary View of U.S. Legal System.

Tags: , ,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Summer/Birthday



Summer Breeze (& Voyage to Atlantis)
Isley Brothers

Summer Solstice
Born this day -- Mom
Happy Birthday


Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.
~John Lubbock

Another Pair of Pants

* Mike Peters, Dayton Daily News

As you pantingly await the verdict in the Dry Cleaners case, see Hell Hath No Fury, Marc Fisher of the Washington Post provides an update on the fate of Judge Pearson in Pants Update: Whither Judge Pearson? He notes:

With the verdict in the $54 million pants suit expected later this week, the calls are growing for the District government to explain why Roy Pearson is worthy of holding a position as administrative law judge.

Judge Pearson's judicial temperment is the issue that the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges must consider. Pearson's initial two-year term as a judge expired on April 30. But the commission considering whether to reappoint him to a full, 10-year term has punted on making that decision, so Pearson continued to draw his $100,512 salary while supposedly acting as an "attorney-advisor" to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

The delay in the confirmation decision is due to a request by the Mayor because of a vacancy in the 3 member Commission. A new appointment is expected soon. At that point:

The new member and the two sitting members of the panel, D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Rigsby and Peter Willner of the Council on Court Excellence, will have to weigh Pearson's performance on the bench against his behavior in the pants case. They will have to decide whether it's even proper to consider how Pearson pressed the pants suit, given some belief in D.C. legal circles that Pearson's decision to exercise his constitutional right to sue is none of the commission's business. On the other hand, the rules governing administrative law judges clearly say that they shall "possess judicial temperament, expertise, experience, and analytical and other skills necessary and desirable for an Administrative Law Judge," and that they must "engage in no conduct inconsistent with the duties, responsibilities, and ethical obligations of an Administrative Law Judge," and that they must "conform to all legally applicable standards of conduct."

* * * *
What to do about Pearson is such a tricky question that it is apparently occupying the time and energy of much of the city's top rank of officials--the mayor's correspondence on the matter went out not only to the commission's members, but to Butler, general counsel Peter Nickles, and D.C. attorney general Linda Singer.
Sounds like they're worried that the Judge will definitely end up on one side or the other of the bench -- as Judge or litigant -- depending on what is decided. In the end, I think the only place this guy belongs is a park bench.

In another post on this subject, Fisher inquires whether the case may have racial overtones, related to the black/Korean tensions that exist in many urban communities. See D.C.'s Black-Korean Dynamic: A Simmering Tension. Fisher notes that once the race of ALJ Pearson was revealed at the time of the trial, coupled with the Korean background of the Chungs, the comments about the trial began to change from discussions of abuse of the legal system to that relating to Black/Korean relations. Reading some of the recent comments, the racists are certainly out in full force. That is really unfortunate.

As for me, I much prefer focusing on the zany antics of Judge Pearson. He's such a smarty pants.

Tags: , ,

Shape It Power


It's a fitting tribute. Power to the people on the steps of Girard College, the private school for poor, orphaned (white) boys in North Philly that was integrated about 20 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, see The Rosa Parks of Girard College.

The event was a tribute, health fair and educational program, as part of the Shape It Program. The SHAPE IT (Stroke, Hypertension and Prostate Education Intervention Team) Project targets African American Men at Risk for Hypertension, Stroke, and Prostate Cancer. The photos in the picture depict famous African American men afflicted with these diseases, such as Langston Hughes, Luther Vandross, Frederick Douglass and Harry Bellafonte. Of course, someone else I know is also pictured prominently.

The SHAPE IT project’s primary goals are to educate African American men about the risks of hypertension, stroke, and prostate cancer, and to encourage them to visit providers for evaluation and care. The 3-year grant is coming to an end, which targeted the African American male population, 35 years or older, with in-depth interactive, educational programs led by male African American health educators from the Philadelphia community.

See also, Feel So Good.

Cartoon of the Day

* Bruce Plante, The Chattanooga Times

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One Wish

President Bush on Wednesday issued his second veto of a measure lifting his restrictions on human embryonic stem cell experiments. See Bush Vetoes Bill Removing Stem Cell Limits.

I have one thing to say (again). I wish for a long life for George Bush.

As I said in Murder is Wrong:

[I]f there is any justice in the world (or if my God, rather than the Bush version, is really in charge), George Bush will have a long life, will live to a ripe old age, and would also be blessed with one of those diseases that could have been cured but for the ban on stem cell research. It would be perfect poetic justice.
That's not asking for too much, is it? See also, Save the Cells (including a link to Jon Stewart's original skit on the Stem Cell Veto, Part 1).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cartoon of the Day


* Matt Davies, The Journal News

Tip of the Hat


My daughter took her father to the Phillies game for Father's Day (it was a bonding moment I decided that they should share without me). Born & raised in Philly, she's a true fan, so she didn't want to hear my teasing her about the statistics in a recent Times piece on the Phillies. It's no wonder, when BASEBALL; CLIMBING TOWARD 10,000 DEFEATS, observes:

During the 1920s and '30s, when the Phillies inhabited a park called the Baker Bowl, the fence in right field was adorned by a giant advertisement for soap that read: ''The Phillies Use Lifebuoy.''

This only encouraged fans to add a sour retort: ''And they still stink.''

In fact, no team has ever stunk so often as the Phillies, who, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, have lost more games than any professional franchise in any sport. The Phillies are 14 losses from a particular threshold of ignominy -- the 10,000th defeat for a club that has won one lonely World Series title (in 1980) during its 125 years of often dreadful existence.

Of course, as I noted in a post last summer, Silent, Weird, Beautiful, about another NYTimes article on City Hall in Philly, which references to Billy Penn's "curse" on the City -- my daughter often refers to the "Curse" as the reason for the foul smell (and bad record):
After taking thirty years to construct, City Hall remained the tallest building in Philadelphia for over 80 years thanks to a gentleman's agreement not to build taller than the brim of William Penn's hat. This was broken in 1983 when Liberty Property Trust announced they would build One Liberty Place (completed in 1987). Many--including lots of sports fans--say that Penn unleashed a curse upon the city. Since then, no major Philly sports team has won a championship.
Maybe those days are over.

Via Attytood, I was amused to read this article, Comcast Center topped off, where the Inquirer reports on the new skyscraper going up in Philly, the Comcast Center. Heading off more bad luck stories, the paper says:
Keeping alive a centuries-old tradition - with a Philadelphia twist - a beam was hoisted to the highest point of Comcast Center today, topping off Philadelphia's new tallest skyscraper.

There was a small tree at one end of the beam, which had been signed by workers and those gathered for the ceremony, and an American flag at the other.

Between them was a statue of William Penn, the city's founder. There is a myth that Philadelphia's sports teams will not win a championship as long as a building 'rises above Billy Penn' on City Hall, said Bill Hankowsky, chief executive officer of Liberty Property Trust, the Malvern company that is building Comcast Center.

He was referring to the controversy two decades ago when One Liberty Place, also built by Liberty, became the first to break that barrier.

'We don't believe in the myth, but to be safe we've added the statue of Billy Penn,' Hankowsky said.
It's the corporate version of being an agnostic -- your not sure, but to be safe, you keep your options open to the possibility of belief. After all, what do you have to lose?

It sure made my daughter happy when she heard the news. Too bad it didn't help them win the game on Father's Day.

Photo via phillyskyline. See also story and pictures at phillyskyline, especially R. Bradley Maule's June 19 piece on the Comcast Center and slideshow, Topping off Comcast Center.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Armageddon Rising

The fate of the Libby Lies is the subject of Frank Rich's column as well. See also All Those Lies.

Via Rozius Unbound, with the focus on the Sopranos, Rich compares the Bushies to the Washington mob in Scooter’s Sopranos Go to the Mattresses, noting "that the approval rating for the entire Washington franchise, the president and Congress alike, has plummeted into the 20s, we need any distraction we can get; the Mafia is a welcome nostalgic escape from a gridlocked government at home and epic violence abroad."

Rich likewise observes the abundance of "Libby love letters" to the Court, recommending his release from jail time, which correspondence itself provides a "snapshot of the elite Washington mob of our time." Rich summarizes:

As the political historian Rick Perlstein has written, one of the recurrent themes of these pleas for mercy is that Mr. Libby perjured himself "only because he was so busy protecting us from Armageddon." Has there ever been a government leader convicted of a crime — and I don't mean only Americans — who didn't see himself as saving the world from the enemy?

The Libby supporters never acknowledge the undisputed fact that their hero, a lawyer by profession, leaked classified information about a covert C.I.A. officer. And that he did so not accidentally but to try to silence an administration critic who called attention to the White House's prewar lies about W.M.D. intelligence. And that he compounded the original lies by lying repeatedly to investigators pursuing an inquiry that without his interference might have nailed others now known to have also leaked Valerie Wilson's identity (Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer).

Much has been said about the hypocrisy of those on the right, champions both of Bill Clinton's impeachment and of unflinching immigration enforcement, who call for legal amnesty in Mr. Libby's case.

* * * *

In Washington, however, hypocrisy is a perennial crime in both parties; if all the city's hypocrites were put in jail, there would be no one left to run the government. What is more striking about the Libby love letters is how nearly all of them ignore the reality that the crime of lying under oath is at the heart of the case. That issue simply isn't on these letter writers' radar screen; the criminal act of perjury isn't addressed (unless it's ascribed to memory loss because Mr. Libby was so darn busy saving the world). Given that Mr. Libby expressed no contrition in court after being convicted, you'd think some of his defenders might step into that moral vacuum to speak for him. But there's been so much lying surrounding this war from the start that everyone is inured to it by now. In Washington, lying no longer registers as an offense against the rule of law.

Right. The rule of law is one of those quaint concepts that has no place in a Republican run world. It will only come back in vogue when the Democrats regain the White House.

All Those Lies

Blogger Atrois often merely states "What Digby Said" with a link to the appropriate post. "What she said" is also often how I feel about Deborah Leavy's op-ed pieces in the Philadelphia Daily News.

In her latest commentary, DO THE CRIME, DO THE TIME, writing about the hue & cry for a pardon of Libby by the right, Leavy does it again:

But I don't think the judge is sending Libby to prison for payback. Judge Walton is known as a tough sentencer, and since Libby did the crime he should do the time.

The best reason for Libby to sit in prison is not so that he will contemplate what he did and repent, as the Quakers envisioned when they first established penitentiaries.

Libby must go to prison so that he and other government officials who lie will realize that they risk real consequence for their actions. The threat of serving time in prison might deter at least some from lying.

There have been so many Bush administration lies it's hard to count. The most significant, surely, was linking Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11, and asserting that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, lies used to justify a war that the truth would not support. In fact, it was just such a lie that Libby lied to cover up.

Justice Department officials lied about why they fired several U.S. attorneys, and why they hired others who were "loyal Bushies."

Bush lied about wiretapping American citizens without warrants.

He lied when he said, "We do not torture."

He lied in saying his tax cuts were primarily for the middle class, when it was the very rich who reaped most of the benefits.

He lied about the cost of the prescription drug plan, and the Medicare analyst who knew otherwise was threatened with firing if he revealed the truth.

He said Democratic leaders "think the best way to protect the American people is - wait until we're attacked again." That couldn't be further from the truth.

GOOGLE "Bush lies" and you'll get almost nine million hits. There's even a website, BushLies.net.

Bush and his aides have continually lied to Congress and to the American people. In their arrogance, they disdain those of us "in the reality-based world," as a top aide to Bush called it, bragging, "We create our own reality."

All those lies, and no one has been held accountable. Libby is part of that "reality," that culture of lying, and he was convicted of lying under oath. I wish we could punish all the others, too, but it is fair to use Libby as an example.

If Bush pardons Libby, the green light to lie stays on.

Enough lies.

If you have sworn to uphold the Constitution, tell the truth. Tell the truth, or you could go to prison.

As Judge Walton said when he sentenced Libby, "Government officials must realize if they're going to step over the line . . . there are consequences."

No more lies. Never mind all the respect for laws and the constitution. They are making it just too damn easy for Jon Stewart. Let's make him work a little bit harder to come up with his skits.

Tags: , , , ,

Southward Bound

On the last day Claire Prescott saw her mother-in-law alive, she had found Dorothy sitting by herself at the kitchen table. She’d just finished snapping off the heads of Claire’s dozen, freshly baked gingerbread men. She probably had first pried loose the eyes, then broken the necks, and finally popped the smiling faces into her mouth, leaving twelve little bodies to finish cooling on the cookie sheet. Claire reminisced about that sad, funny scene, almost a year old now, and sensed there was a reason she was recalling that day.

She cleared the night table of paperbacks for a thorough dusting and tried to shake loose her worries by whistling, but the reluctant tread as her husband mounted the stairs must have registered in her subconscious mind: She knew, even as she turned around to find him standing in the doorway, portable phone held close to his thigh, he brought bad news.

“It’s the vet,” Andy said. “They’re telling us to bring him in. Can you handle this Claire?” He held the phone out to her. “I just can’t deal with it.”

So begins the story of Beauregard, a short story by a dear friend. Her wonderful piece was published in the first Chestnut Hill Local Fiction and Poetry edition. It's a must read. As the judges said of her dog tale:
For fiction, we both agreed immediately that Lee W. Doty’s “Beauregard” was the standout. This funny and touching tale recalls the death of a beloved family dog and the surprising impact that the passing has for the family’s father.
Kudos to Lee!!

All I have to say is John Grogan just better watch his back.

Cartoon of the Day

* Bill Schorr, United Media

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dance With My Father



My father is generally a quiet guy, but he stands out in one area. He is smooth on the dance floor. Even though he sometimes loses his balance these days, you would never know it from his dance performance last week-end at my nephew's graduation party, see Ain't No Party Like a Scranton Party.

I, on the other hand, was a child of the sixties, so my dancing skills are somewhat lacking. I can remember going to dances in high school and mostly sitting on the floor with my friends, swaying to the music. Dances weren't for dancing. And, I haven't progressed much since then.

Because of this, I don't often dance with my dad. He's a pro and I'm a bit stilted as I try to dance to the music. But, every once in a while, we get out there & he tries to lead me with grace.

I heard this song today and it reminded me of my dad and how lucky I am to be able to still dance with my father.

Happy Father's Day, dad.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury . . .

Like a Lawyer Spurned.

I'm not sure how I missed this story. One of the LLWL* mentioned this story to me, saying it was just my kind of outrage. She certainly knows me well. Sometimes I get so caught up in the political outrages and war stories that I miss the other stuff. This one may be lawyer fluff, but at least it's not Paris Hilton (whoever she is). As the NYTimes noted, the trial has been lampooned on talk radio and in the blogosphere as an example of American legal excess. See also, Lawsuit Against Dry Cleaners Rivets the Nation.

The case of the purloined pants, as told by the Washington Post, in Lawyer's Price For Missing Pants: $65 Million, is pure poetry:

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.

Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay -- would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?

He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.

Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50.

By the way, Pearson is a lawyer. Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He's a judge, too -- an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia.

The New York Times, Judge Tries Suing Pants Off Dry Cleaners, observed:

The case of the judge’s pants, which opened for trial in a packed courtroom here on Tuesday, has been lampooned on talk radio and in the blogosphere as an example of American legal excess. And it has spurred complaints to the District of Columbia Bar and city officials from national tort reform and trial lawyer groups worried about its effect on public trust in the legal system.

“I don’t know of any other cases that have been quite this ridiculous,” said Paul Rothstein, a professor of law at Georgetown University.

The trial, laced with references to inseam measurements, cuffs and designer labels, got off to a rocky start. Judge Judith Bartnoff of District of Columbia Superior Court limited Judge Pearson’s last-minute bid to broaden aspects of his case and cut short his efforts to portray himself as a “private attorney general” championing the rights of every Washington consumer.

“You are not a we, you are an I,” Judge Bartnoff said in one of several testy exchanges with Judge Pearson, 57, who is representing himself. “You are seeking damages on your own behalf, and that is all.”

See also, Judge Who Sued Dry Cleaners for Millions Cries in Court. As I was reading about this case, an issue that I hadn't seen addressed anywhere came to mind. Pearson initially brought the pants to the cleaners to be let out because he had gained weight. That suggests that they had been sitting in his closet for some time, a time when he was thinner (we all know how that goes). So, the pants were probably at least several years old, and therefore not even worth the original cost of the suit. Yet, he demanded the full cost of a new suit -- and then escalated skyward from there.

The trial just concluded and it sounds like the Judge hearing the case sounds like she thought he had a pants full -- of something. As one blogger said , Wearing Down the Judicial System With a Pair of Pants:

Don't look for Roy Pearson to be out shopping for new suit pants this weekend. At the end of the $54 million pants suit in D.C. Superior Court yesterday, Judge Judith Bartnoff said she wouldn't issue a decision until next week but nonetheless gave a strong hint of her direction.

After listening to Pearson argue for hour upon hour that he was somehow protecting the interests of all Washingtonians by using the D.C. consumer protection law to punish Custom Cleaners for allegedly losing a pair of his pants, Bartnoff said: 'This is a very important statute to protect consumers. It's also very important that statutes like this are not misused.'

I sure hope this guy is as much a loser with this case as he is elsewhere with his life. He actually cried on the stand (he should be crying, having made himself a laughingstock forever -- the name Pearson will no doubt become synonymous with Pouty Pants).

During his testimony, "Pearson described in detail 'his history of community service, his weight gain as a middle-aged man, his financial woes and his painful divorce.' " Judge Pearson Breaks Down on Stand. As noted in the Washington Post, Pants Extra, a Virginia appeals court decided in his divorce case that Pearson has abused the legal system with excessive filings. What a shock. and then there's this:

After working for a quarter century for Neighborhood Legal Services, Pearson was unemployed for more than two years prior to becoming an administrative law judge. During those jobless years, Pearson testified, he had no car, no bank account, and cash holdings of only around $1,000 to $2,000. He said he left his longtime position with the federally funded legal services program because his boss 'ceased communicating with me. I thought he was being unreasonable, so I quit.' During the time after that, Pearson said he collected unemployment benefits and was enrolled in a utility assistance program that allowed him to avoid paying for heat."

And as the New York Times noted:

Judge Pearson’s future as an administrative law judge is in limbo. His two-year term expired on May 2, and a judicial panel has yet to decide on his reappointment.

In the meantime, Judge Pearson remains on the city payroll as an attorney adviser to the Office of Administrative Hearings, at a salary of $100,512.

After this episode, I'm sure they can't wait to get rid of him either. Somehow, I think he might have a lot more to cry about in his future.

For those interesting in knowing more about the case, the law firm representing the Chungs also put together the factual history of the case at their website, along with a place to make donations to defray their costs, see The Facts of Pearson v. Chung.

A Postscript: I couldn't resist including a collection of some of the captions on this case:

Mr. Fancy Pants
Pants Suit
The ’suit over the suit, Day One ...
But the Pants!!
Sue Your Pants Off
Judge takes little guy to the cleaners
Judge Drops Pants; Suit Still On

(* Lady Lawyers Who Lunch = my officemates)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cartoon of the Day


* Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Noblesse Oblige No More

I'm so glad that Paul Krugman wrote about this issue. While this argument has bothered me for some time, it wasn't until I read Krugman's column that I focused on what is really at issue. It was really irksome every time that I read the implied (and in some cases, direct) aspersions about John Edwards being a phony merely because he is wealthy, yet espouses causes for the poor and less fortunate. I assume the theory is that if one has money, that precludes an ability to have compassion or empathy for anyone who may be in different circumstances (read that = social class) than you.

Via Rozius Unbound, in Authentic? Never Mind, Krugman explains:

Rich liberals who claim they’ll help America’s less fortunate are phonies.

Let me give you one example — a Democrat who said he’d work on behalf of workers and the poor. He even said he’d take on Big Business. But the truth is that while he was saying those things, he was living in a big house and had a pretty lavish summer home too. His favorite recreation, sailing, was incredibly elitist. And he didn’t talk like a regular guy.

Clearly, this politician wasn’t authentic. His name? Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Luckily, that’s not how the political game was played 70 years ago. F.D.R. wasn’t accused of being a phony; he was accused of being a “traitor to his class.” But today, it seems, politics is all about seeming authentic. A recent Associated Press analysis of the political scene asked: “Can you fake authenticity? Probably not, but it might be worth a try.”

* * * *
For example, the case of F.D.R. shows that there’s nothing inauthentic, in the normal sense of the word, about calling for higher taxes on the rich while being rich yourself. If anything, it’s to your credit if you advocate policies that will hurt your own financial position. But the news media seem to find it deeply disturbing that John Edwards talks about fighting poverty while living in a big house.
I finally figured out what the problem is. As we well know, compassionate conservatism is just a campaign slogan, to be tossed aside like the other campaign literature after the election. Under the new world order, greed knows no bounds and self interest is paramount.

The really rich today have no compassion for anyone and that is the prevalent modus operandi -- from the White House to gentry inhabiting the gated communities, as the wealthy insulate themselves from the lowly masses. The disparity between rich and poor is ever widening and the interaction between them is diminishing. The Rich Are Making the Poor Poorer. With that comes the ability to dehumanize those who are on the lower economic end of the spectrum.

Philly has been treated to the local Main Line version of that with Susan Tepper -- the heiress/ nanny beater extraordinaire, Accused nanny-beater Susan Tabas Tepper to stand trial, who epitomizes this mentality. See also, Swinging Susie.

Politicians with a social conscience, like FDR and John Kennedy, would fare the same way John Edwards has. The problem is no just John Edwards. It that anyone would consider someone other than their own kind. Because of the self centered focus, it is beyond the comprehension of many that anyone would look beyond themselves and exhibit a real concern for others, especially those of a "lesser class." To the extent such a concern is expressed, it must just be campaign jargon -- it could never be an honest sentiment. Noblesse oblige is one of those quaint concepts that has no relevance in society today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We Will Remember This



Jon Stewart "reported" on George Bush's trip to Albania, noting the adoring welcome he received from the crowd. His quote that summed up the trip of contrasts:

"Wait. Can I just ask a question? How did those people get so close to the President? They're hugging him, playing with his hair. We're not even allowed to ask the guy questions."


Ah, yes.

George W. Bush, Hero of Albania! At least there's one place in the world where they show the Decider some love.

That was a wonderful reverse-Borat moment Sunday, with the joyous townspeople of Fushe Kruje yelling "Bushie! Bushie!" and Albania's prime minister gushing over the "greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times."
This is how Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post described the trip. But Robinson continued, in his piece, Fleeting Glory in Albania, to reflect on the legacy of Bush:

This, I am convinced, is how future generations will remember George W. Bush: as the president who abandoned our traditional concepts of justice and human rights, choosing instead a program of state-sponsored kidnapping, arbitrary detention and abusive interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding."

We will remember him for the Iraq war, of course. But I hope and believe we will give at least as much weight to his erosion of our nation's fundamental values and basic character.

We will remember him as the president who established a prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complete with kangaroo-court military tribunals in which detainees were not allowed to see the alleged evidence against them. We will remember that long after it was clear that Guantanamo was doing serious harm to our nation's reputation in the world -- on Sunday, Bush's former secretary of state, Colin Powell, called for the place to be shut down "this afternoon" -- Bush stubbornly kept it open.

We will remember Dick Cheney not for accidentally shooting a fellow hunter but for apparently being the loudest and most strident voice inside the administration against honoring the concepts of due process and habeas corpus that define justice in civilized societies. We will remember the negligible regard he holds for the Geneva Conventions.

We will remember Alberto Gonzales not for his hapless stewardship of the Justice Department or the firings of those U.S. attorneys-- well, actually, we will remember him for those things -- but we'll also remember that when he was White House counsel he dutifully provided legalistic justification for subjecting prisoners to treatment that international agreements clearly define as torture.

We will remember this whole misguided administration for deciding to wage the fight against terrorism in a manner that not only mocks our nation's values but also draws new recruits to the anti-American cause. We will remember this White House for unwittingly helping the terrorist cause perpetuate itself.

Right. Worst.President.Ever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Bill Day, Memphis Commercial Appeal (United Feature Syndicate)

If Cheney Becomes President, I'll Kill Myself



Helen Thomas was interviewed by Tim Russert on June 9, 2007, and this is the interview. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a big fan. This interview shows why. She personifies journalism at its finest. Plus, she's Lebanese and loves jewelry. Pretty much clinches it for me.

I've had the opportunity to hear Helen Thomas speak several times, No Gentle Good Night for Her and Thomas the Terrible. See also, Hats Off to Helen.

I also have a video, Thomas Grills Bush, which shows Helen Thomas questioning a Bush impersonator, James Adomian, asking all the questions of the President he is afraid to answer, as well as her interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, Thomas Tells All.

(Video via PoliticsTV)

Monday, June 11, 2007

From One Big House to Another

There are just those stories that make you shudder and shake your head. Despite her weak denials, the odds don't seem to be in her favor, based upon the fact that Susan Tabas Tepper is sitting in jail accused of assaulting her second nanny in a year. See Swinging Susie.

The Inquirer had a follow up article on Tepper after interviewing many of the cadre of nannies and crew of assorted workers employed by her, in Main Line nannies tell tales of terror. They pretty much support the view of the abused nannies, that Tepper is a sad, sick chick. This would be her own sad tale, but for the fact that she expressed her venom in a vocal and violent fashion on the help. Nothing like taking advantage of those least in a position to defend themselves:

Many at Tepper's seven-acre Villanova estate are illegal immigrants who worry she will report them to authorities. Others get paid under the table and don't want trouble from the IRS.

They all describe Tepper, 44, as a temperamental woman who could be funny and generous, but also demanding and explosive. They say she berated, bullied and pushed around the hired help, especially the immigrants who cleaned her house and cared for her four children, ages 2 through 13.

It's the same old story. Money can't buy you love, but it can stave off having to take care of things (including your kids) yourself:

Why did they stay? Money. The banking heiress paid up to $100 an hour, thousands of dollars for overnight stays or to lure back those who quit or were fired in a fit of pique, say former employee Xiomara D. Salinas and others. Some housekeepers earned $100,000 a year.
* * * *

Staff worked nearly round the clock, with one shift getting the children up and another putting them to bed. They took them to activities, did the shopping, and ran errands. Some lived in. But they could be fired on the spot.

When the longtime nanny would put Dagny, Tepper's daughter, to bed, the girl would say to her, " 'I love you. You're going to be here tomorrow morning, aren't you?' They never knew if we'd be around the next day," the woman said.

Reading about Tepper reminded me of one of my former law partners who ran through nannies at home and secretaries in the office with Tepper-like speed. In typical bully fashion, he would belittle the support staff in the office, often reducing them to tears. Word was that he treated his nannies at home the same way. In an eerie echo of a tale I once heard about my partner, a nanny described Tepper's temper:

Stacy Leshner said she had witnessed Tepper's fury.

"Oh, my God, she was so mean to Ula," said the Pennsylvania State University student, who worked for Tepper last summer and last month. "When Ula was there, I was really, really happy because I wouldn't get yelled at. Ula was taking all the heat."

Kordzior, who is Polish, was fired and rehired repeatedly over 10 years, ex-workers said.

"She told me, 'I hate Ula. I can't stand her,' " said the longtime nanny, who still has flashbacks. "She would say to her kids, 'Isn't Ula ugly? Tell her she's ugly.' "

One night Kordzior was crying after an enraged Tepper grabbed and twisted the front of her shirt, the nanny recalled. "She was very hands-on like that and in your face."

Police said that on May 20, Tepper scratched Kordzior's face and lip and shoved
her to the ground as the housekeeper tried to get in her car. Tepper also allegedly called the woman's 9-year-old daughter a "bitch" and pushed her out of the way.

And then, if that weren't enough, the Inquirer followed that piece with another article about another rich Main Line family who had a highly regarded, beloved, long term teacher at Baldwin fired because they didn't like the way she (supposedly) treated their daughter. See High stakes in teacher-parent clash. The parents threatened to pull a big donation to the school unless the teacher was dumped, which she was.

Fragile child, no doubt -- having to live with parents like this -- who wouldn't be? After all, they've shown her that everyone is disposable. A valuable lesson to learn early on.

The Save Ardmore Coalition said it best in, To Say You Are From The Main Line is Pretty Embarrassing These Days, commenting on these articles:
[They] read like a warped version of Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City'. Or a tabloid like The New York Post. Why?

Because in the ever widening gap between the haves and have nots....in Lower Merion....we have more tales of 'Money Doesn't Know Who Owns It', 'Agree With Me or You're Fired', 'I Can Beat You: You're Just 'The Help''."

Cartoon of the Day


* Bruce Beattie, Daytona Beach News-Journal

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ain't No Party Like a Scranton Party


The Tripp House

It wasn't until I went to Scranton -- or perhaps I should say The Electric City -- this week-end for my nephew's Graduation Party that I realized the meaning of the term The Electric City, which is used as a slogan for Scranton. I recently wrote a piece about on Scranton being "Tinseltown east," and captioned it The Electric City after I read a NYTimes article on the city. But I didn't realize that the nickname was so pervasive until I went there this week-end.

I guess I've been away longer than I thought (and the city has changed more than I knew). In fact, I had to ask one of my brothers what it stood for. I do remember the (unlit) sign atop the Scranton Electric Building, but never knew (or long forgot) that the name “The Electric City” refers to Scranton having had the country’s first electric streetcar line.

As Everything2 explains in its section on Scranton, Pennsylvania:
On November 30, 1886, the first electric-powered street car system in the United States commenced operations in Scranton, its initial run between downtown Scranton and the Green Ridge neighborhood. Electric trolley service subsequently extended all over the valley, and included the 'Laurel Line' a line that went from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre and stopped at Rocky Glenn Amusement Park. The 'Laurel Line' was restored in 2001 and now connects the Scranton tourist attractions such as Steamtown and the ironworks museum. In the late nineteenth century, the system of electric streetcars gave Scranton the nickname, 'the Electric City'.
In fact, the city seems to be on the upswing in many ways. As Philly Magazine noted in a piece on the TV show the Office and Scranton, Office Party:

Mayor Doherty . . . spearheaded a drive to raise $250,000 to relight a huge 40,000-light-bulb “Electric City” sign that had been dark for two decades atop of one of the town’s tallest buildings. Electric City references are everywhere in Scranton these days, from murals on highway tunnel walls to small-business names. Somehow, this TV show is helping to make Scranton a brand name. There’s been talk of building a duplicate of the Office set to attract tourists. For the first time in a while, many things seem possible in Scranton.

“We were a depressed community,” says the mayor, “and there was no development. Now we have a lot of development, and things are going really well for us. You figure, we have this TV show, and this year we’re getting the Yankees’ Triple A farm team. It’s just one thing after another.”

The trip to Scranton was a real trip down memory lane for me. The Graduation Party was held at The Tripp House, which is Scranton's oldest home. Even more, years before it was taken over by the Junior League and restored as an event venue, my grandmother lived there. My brothers and I went to the house early to help set up for the party, so I got to wander around the house and remember spending time there with Noni. Great memories.


The party was also lots of fun. We had great food (and drink), and seeing friends and family and dancing into the wee hours. As Steve Carell (Michael Scott) of the Office raps, Ain't No Party Like a Scranton Party (Cuz a Scranton Party Don't Stop). Of course, he isn't telling Scrantonians nothing, since we know that!!

And then I've gotta end with this rap song that I discovered called Scranton Rap. Says it all.



(The song is sung by Mike Berberich, with music and production by Kevin O'Boyle. John Siddons on guitar. The band is called Mo7s. Check out their myspace: mo7smusic)

Cartoon of the Day


* Ed Stein, Rocky Mountain News

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Not a Philadelphia lawyer's Trick




Daily Kos notes that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185) , 11-8. Specter, perhaps embarrassed by his role when the Military Commission's Act stripped us of that fundamental right, was the sole Republican supporting the legislation. The bill could go to the full floor at any time. As Crooks and Liars explains: "Keith Olbermann brings back George Washington University Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley to talk about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on the Restoration of Habeas Corpus Act today."

Turley explains the importance of habeas corpus:

First of all, habeas corpus is sometimes treated like some trick by a Philadelphia lawyer. It is actually the foundation for all other rights. When the government throws you into a dungeon for what you say or who you pray to, it's habeas corpus that's the right that allows you to see the enforcement of the other rights. So without habeas corpus, the rest of it is just aspirational and meaningless.

The danger when you walk away from these values, these rights that define us have been proven by this president. The greatest irony of the Bush Administration is that his legacy will be to show the dangers of walking away from those rights that define us. We’re very much alone today. He can’t go to Canada without people protesting, Miss America can’t even go to Mexico without being booed. We’re viewed as a rogue nation and it is a dangerous world to live in when you’re alone. In Italy, they're prosecuting in abstentia our own agents. This doesn't make us safer.... It's very interesting that the lesson this president may leave for his successors is that whether you are inclined to walk away from those core rights or not, that is what puts us in the greatest danger.

Transcript available at Daily Kos.

Nicole Belle of Crooks & Liars also discusses the possible restoration of Habeas Corpus by Congress in Bring Back Habeas Corpus.

This is a significant step in restoring some of the constitutional rights that have been stripped by the ruling junta in the White House. When the Military Commissions Act was first passed, Senator Feingold called it "a stain on our Nation's History." See So bye, bye Miss American Pie. Hopefully, this will be the stain remover.

As Shaun Mullen, writing at the Moderate Voice aptly put it, Habeas Corpus: Will Dems Wake From the Dead? :
For too many Americans, the suspension of certain civil liberties after the 9/11 attacks has been an abstraction, something that applies only to people with funny headgear and fanatical beliefs who are incarcerated in the Rumsfeld Gulag. In fact, there is a good argument to be made that habeas corpus does not apply to non-U.S. citizens, who include the vast majority of so-called enemy combatants.
Yet here is an example of the reality behind the words. McClatchy's Washington Bureau reports, in Human rights groups say there are over 39 'ghost detainees':
At least 39 people from a half-dozen countries have been held in secret U.S. detention centers worldwide for three or more years, and their fates remain unknown, six human-rights groups say in a report to be released Thursday.

* * * *

In five instances, the report says, U.S. authorities detained the wives or young children of suspects held in secret prisons.
I remember Argentina's "The Disappeared" when its military junta (1976 - 1983) ran a secret detention program where 300,000 of its citizens "disappeared" during the Dirty War. See, e.g., Argentina's "disappeared". Whenever I consider the elimination of habeas and how our government is acting today, I think about the "Disappeared" and feel that we have become what we once despised. We need to restore habeas corpus to prevent further abuses by our country and restore our dignity.