Monday, June 30, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Mike Lester, Rome News Tribune

The Trustworthy Maverick

"You know, this election is about trust, and trusting people's word" McCain told a crowd of donors to his campaign. "And unfortunately, apparently, on several items, Sen. Obama's word cannot be trusted."
At a fundraiser in Kentucky, McCain said that voters should be wary of a presidential candidate who's word cannot be trusted, McCain: On Some Issues 'Obama’s Word Cannot Be Trusted'.
I couldn't agree more.

Via Crooks and Liars, is a list of the highlights of McCain's strongly held positions on the issues, as examples of the trusted maverick that he is:
See Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report for more, It’s a delicate dance, and John McCain is ‘liable to break a hip’.

Yet why are the flips of Obama highlighted, while the ever growing changes in position by McCain all but ignored? Could it be the media's infatuation with McCain? Clearly, as between Clinton and Obama, the press preferred Obama. But they can't give up their first love -- John McCain. Now that the general election is upon us, McCain still wins the hearts of the media. The McLaughlin Group explored this issue on a recent show (video available at Crooks and Liars). Posing the question is the media smitten with McCain, several recent quotes from the media was highlighted:

Kind of like a Martin Luther [Chris Matthews - Hardball]

A man of unshakable character, willing to stand up for his convictions [R.W. Apple, NY Times]

An affable man of zealous, unbending beliefs [Richard Cohen, The Washington Post]

The hero who still does things his own way [Richard Cohen, The Washington Post]

Rises above the pack-eloquent, as only a prisoner of war can be [David Nyhan, The Boston Globe]

The perfect candidate to deal with what challenges we face as a country. [Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC]

Blunt, unyielding, deploying his principles, what he does do is what he’s always done, play it as straight as possible. [Terry Moran, Nightline]

Wordly-wise and witty, determined to follow the facts to the exclusion of ideology. [Michael Hirsh, Newsweek]

Willing to defy his own party and forge compromise. [Michael Hirsh, Newsweek]

Pragmatic in the service of the national interest, rises to passion when he believes that America’s best values are at stake. [Michael Hirsh, Newsweek]

The maverick candidate still. [Terry Moran, Nightline]

John McCain -- trusted maverick. He could do his own campagin ad just with those quotes.

(Cartoon via John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Freedom Free Airlines

As I get ready to fly the unfriendly skies, heading home today after our jaunt to Miami for a few days of orientation at South Beach U for our daughter, this is certainly not the article I wanted to see. The US News & World Report, in Seizing Laptops and Cameras Without Cause, reports:

Returning from a vacation to Germany in February, freelance journalist Bill Hogan was selected for additional screening by customs officials at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. Agents searched his luggage, he said, "then they told me that they were impounding my laptop."

Shaken by the encounter, Hogan examined his bags and found the agents had also inspected the memory card from his camera. "It was fortunate that I didn't use [the laptop] for work," he said, "or I would have had to call up all my sources and tell them that the government had just seized their information." When customs offered to return the computer nearly two weeks later, Hogan had it shipped to his lawyer.
Although there are challenges that have been filed in court to this policy, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case upheld the right of Customs and Border Protection to conduct searches without reasonable suspicion. Laptop Searches in Airports Draw Fire at Senate Hearing, so I'm not very optimistic.

John Dean also wrote about these issues recently, see Airline Passengers, Beware The Government Does Not Protect Your Rights When You Fly, As a Recent Federal Appellate Decision Attests and Why Congress Must Act to Protect Air Passengers A Lawsuit Brought by Passengers Trapped on the Tarmac Without Basic Necessities.

I've mentioned ad infinitum that I hate to fly, see e.g., Fear of Flying. However, it seems that the indignities only grow as time goes on. People grouse, yet acquiesce to the searches, seizures and dehumanization inflicted on us at airports. Of course, the reality is that we have not choice -- express an objection and security is alerted, leading to a detention, if not arrest. Emboldened, the government and TSA go further, ensuring that we have no privacy or any other rights if we dare decide to board an airplane.

The latest outrage is particularly troubling to me, because my laptop contains client information. That raises issues of attorney-client privilege, which would require me to try to stop the seizure and possible viewing of this information. I can just imagine my objecting to some security person trying to take my laptop and my ending up being taken away in handcuffs. I guess I just have to keep my fingers crossed that I'm not one of the (un)lucky ones.

On another note, luckily lightening didn't strike when I went into the campus chapel for one of the parent's sessions at the University.

Cartoon of the Day

Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News

Thursday, June 26, 2008

South Beach U

Our daughter graduated a few weeks ago, The Graduate, and as I mentioned, she's going to college in Miami. I call it South Beach U.

We visited the school, among others, over spring break, The Whirlwind Tour, and all liked the place. What's not to like about going to college a few miles from South Beach?

The school is having its orientation program this week, so that the students can register for classes, meet their adviser, etc. and get a feel for the place. We're along for the ride. We'll also visit my brother, who lives in Delray Beach.

Believe it or not, the weather is reported to be hotter in Philly than Miami over the next few days. So, we're headed south for cooler climes. And a bit of beach time.

Gun Lover's Delight

As expected, the Supreme Court decided that the right to bear arms is an individual right and, in so doing, the Court struck down as unconstitutional the DC gun ban in the Heller case. As the Washington Post reported, Supreme Court says Americans have right to guns:

The Supreme Court says Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court's 5-4 ruling strikes down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision goes further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact. (Emphasis added).
So the Court went further than the Administration even wanted. Justice Scalia wrote the opinion. It's a res ipsa loquitor, if I ever heard one.

And there's one more touch I just love. As SCOTUSblog observes, in A constitutional right to a gun:
Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, or laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, or laws putting conditions on gun sales.
So, no guns in the courthouse. Big surprise. See Guns in the (Court)House. So, it's OK for shoot 'em ups on the city streets, but we have to make sure Scalia is safe.

The Elitist

“Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”
When I first heard this quote, my first thought was that it sounded a bit like it was describing George Bush. With a few minor changes, of course. Make it a double Martini. He's slightly sloshed already, so he's leaning against the wall and his snide comments are slurred. Finally, scratch the beautiful date. Instead, it's some horsey-faced debutante, who got fixed up with him by two monied families hoping for a merger.

And the minute I dissed her, Maureen Dowd echoes my sentiments in her recent column, More Phony Myths (and not surprisingly, I enjoy her more when she's mocking Republicans). Of course, the quote was by Karl Rove and it was referring to Barack Obama. As Dowd said:
The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove.

* * * *
Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he’s certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club. But isn’t that better than the aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks? It’s ironic, and maybe inevitable, that the first African-American nominee comes across as a prince of privilege. He is, as Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic wrote, not the seed but the flower of the civil rights movement.

Unlike W., Obama doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and he doesn’t make a lot of snarky remarks. He tries to stay on a positive keel and see things from the other person’s point of view.

He’s not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy’s influence and Daddy’s friends, the one who got waved into Yale and Harvard and cushy business deals, who drank too much and snickered at the intellectuals and gave them snide nicknames.

Shaun Mullen calls Rove the Lee Atwater knockoff. I think he just shoots off these little nastygrams into the media to see what sticks. Of course, Liberals and others alike have been puzzling over the "country club" tag, since Bush is certainly the true county club denizen, while the reality is that Obama wouldn't be admitted to most country clubs, even if he tried.

And best of all, Jake Tapper of Political Punch continues the country club metaphor a bit further, pondering:
But the picture Rove paints is interesting. Who, pray tell, is Rove at this country club?

The guy telling funny stories near the band?

The charming president of the club's philanthropic arm?

The brainy guy with all the sports scores?

Or the guy who vandalizes your car and blames it on the kitchen staff?"
Countdown's Keith Olbermann has to have his say on the issue as well:

The GOP has tried for years to make the word "elitist" a slur for intelligent and has managed to erase the connotation of the word, which traditionally means someone of an elite social class or financial status. However, as Jon Stewart said not so long ago, having someone who is "elite" or superior as President is not a bad thing. See Elitist, Everlasting or Explosive?.

Finally, a TPM reader suggests that the intent was to focus on the "beautiful date" line, which certainly wasn't Michelle in Rove's mind. Rather, it was the kind of woman who frequents a country club -- a beautiful white woman. Where Will the Republicans Go?. That image will certainly have its intended effect among a particular segment of the population -- those who haven't quite taken to that whole interracial dating thing, you know?

This goes along with the recent comments by Washington Post reporter Josh Weisman, who observed that Obama is much more "white than black, beyond his skin color," based upon his upbringing. See Reporter labels Obama ‘much more white than black’.

If he's not a radical black muslim, he's a (sorta) white elitist. Either way, is that someone we'd be comfortable with in the White House?

UPDATE (6/30): Arrogant is the new uppity. But of course. Silly me, why didn't I think of this?

John Ridley of The Huffington Post explains the new Code word for Uppity in When Rove Calls Obama Arrogant, He Means "Uppity":
Arrogant, of course, is a euphemism. In the monochromatic bunkers from which old-schoolers cling to power the true word they use is 'uppity' when hurled at blacks. It's the 'B-word' for women. I'm not sure what the Rovian ilk use for the Latinos and Asian-Americans who dare claim their due, but I'm sure it's equally as derisive and wielded with sick pleasure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's Downright Orwellian

George Orwell
Born this day in 1903

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

See also,
GOP: George Orwell's Prophecy

(Image of orwell via Krakit)

Return of Scrunchy

Well, good news on the case of the missing cat. The other day, I wrote that our cat hadn't come home for several days, which was unlike him. Above all, he hates to miss a meal.
Last night, Scrunchy showed up after a 5 day vacation.
My husband was taking the garbage out around 11 pm & heard a cat meowing inside our neighbor's garage, which sounded suspiciously like Scrunchy. The door was locked, so we called our neighbors. We could hear him meowing and when they opened the doors, he disappeared.

Either the noise of the garage doors opening or the fact that there were strangers around must have scared him. I even left some food by the door, but he wouldn't come out. He must have run up the stairs of the garage and hid behind some stuff for a while, but I finally coaxed him out. He ate his meal & I brought him home. He looks fine, but maybe a little thinner.

We're not sure how long he was inside the garage. Our neighbors have been doing yard work, so they've been in and out of the garage over the past few days. He snuck in at some point, but we don't think he could have been in there the whole time, since his voice was strong and he doesn't look like he's starving. He's not giving details of the rest of his vacation.
Of course, he's now downstairs howling to be left out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

John Sherffius, Daily Camera

MoDo has no MoJo

In the waning days of the Clinton campaign, and thereafter, Hillary and her supporters claimed that sexism was a big part of the reason for her loss.

I've said before that I don't disagree that sexism was prevalent during the coverage of the campaign, as was subtle racism, but I don't think it was the reason that she lost. See Oh, Dear Me. In part, I believe it's because a racist is much less likely to vote for a black person than a sexist is for a woman. Someone can believe a woman is shrill -- or even a bitch -- and still end up casting a ballot for that person (they may even think it's a good quality for a president). Not so for someone who hates black people. The Washington Post carried 2 articles on Sunday discussing race and the election. See Hate Groups' Newest Target and 3 in 10 Americans Admit to Race Bias.

It was interesting to see in the aftermath navel gazing of the media over its role in sexist reporting that the NYTimes is faulting its own coverage of the Clinton campaign, by chastising Maureen Dowd's treatment of Hillary in her columns, Times Public Editor Hammers Maureen Dowd's Coverage Of Hillary. As Digby said, her gender stereotypical references have long been a part of her modus operandi. Twisted Modo.

In fact, I stopped reading Maureen Dowd over her coverage of Hillary Clinton, because I thought it was so vile and horrific that it crossed the line from biting sarcasm to personal attack. Of course, I also attributed it to part of her extreme form of Clinton hater disease. She, of course, has skewered George Bush often enough, much to my delight. See, e.g., 'White House Wives'. However, I can't help feel that the extremely nasty tenor of her Clinton attacks was somehow personal. Being caddy myself, I thought that perhaps her personal venom was a result of her having been rejected by Bill.

I suppose that opens me to a claim of being sexist, but sometimes it's just worth it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Adam Zyglis, Buffalo News

Good-bye George

George Carlin -- the curmudgeon comedian has died.

For more Carlin clips, see The Good George.

I'm Off to Catland

It looks like our cat Scrunchy has left us, since he's been missing for several days.

As I noted in comments at KIKO'S HOUSE, he went missing last year for a few days and then turned up none the worse for wear, demanding his meal. But he's been gone for over 3 days, so I'm beginning to think we may not see him again. He loves to wander the neighborhood, but he always comes back in the morning and early evening for his meals. When we pull in the driveway after work, he's often waiting for us under the gazebo.

He doesn't usually wander off too far from the house (so as to not miss a meal) and my husband and I have checked around the neighborhood looking for him, but no sign of Scrunchy. Our daughter just got back from a week-end at the shore, so she doesn't know & we don't have the heart to tell her. Especially in nice weather, Scrunchy usually eats & runs, so the fact that he wasn't here when she came home last night wasn't unusual.

The above is a picture of Scrunchy shortly after he arrived at our house in April of 1998. This is a more recent shot. Unlike me, he's not into political news.

See also It's Time to Go

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

You've Changed

I promise that this will be my last post bemoaning the passage of the FISA Amendments by the House on Friday (at least until next week when the Senate acts to make this bill a law), but the issue is so important that I can't just let it go.

Here's Keith Olbermann's take on the issue, joined by John Dean of Nixon fame. Who better than Dean should know the "if I say it's the law, it is" theory of governance.

And Barack Obama has officially joined the ranks of those politicians without a soul. For me, the moment for McCain was when he voted against the ban on torture, for Hillary Clinton it was when she used race as a wedge issue in the campaign. And this weasel move by Obama is yet another of those moments.

Now that the primary election is over, he can afford to betray the progressive and liberals, since they have no where else to go. As Paul Kane of the Washington Post puts it, Obama Supports FISA Legislation, Angering Left:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today announced his support for a sweeping intelligence surveillance law that has been heavily denounced by the liberal activists who have fueled the financial engines of his presidential campaign.

In his most substantive break with the Democratic Party's base since becoming the presumptive nominee, Obama declared he will support the bill when it comes to a Senate vote, likely next week, despite misgivings about legal provisions for telecommunications corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program of suspected terrorists.

In so doing, Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a "vital national security matter" -- and alienating his base.

In his discussion on Countdown, John Dean defends Obama, saying that Obama pledged an investigation into criminal conduct of spying on citizens and that this bill does not immunize criminal conduct, only private litigation for violation of the law. He suggests that perhaps Obama plans to reserve that right to go after the Administration and telecoms even with the passage of this law.

Would that it were true, but I'm certainly not counting on it. Obama is much too much of a moderate to take on such a battle.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Everything Must Change

Change you can believe in?

Eviscerating the 4th Amendment is certainly one way to change things.

Following up on my earlier post, the House today approved the despicable FISA bill, showing yet again that Bush and his buddies may be unpopular and stupid, but they still have the power to command the Dumbocrats to accede to their demands.

Compromise means the Democrats give in, pure and simple. Bipartisan support is a euphemism for the spineless political hacks that make up the Democrat Party. As Glenn Greenwald observes, in What Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Fred Hiatt mean by "bipartisanship":

But this absurd praise underscores what the Washington power structure means when they speak of "bipartisanship" -- it means having the Republican Party demand something, and then having enough Democrats agree to it to ensure it passes in essentially undiluted form.

In January, I compiled a list of the Great Bipartisan Compromises of the Bush era and demonstrated that they are characterized by one common attribute: namely, they are supported by almost all Republicans and then enough Democrats from a split caucus to ensure its passage.
And Obama? Change is just another word for more of the same.

After listening to the crickets for way too long, his silence was finally broken with a statement saying that he would support the proposed FISA bill, Obama Backing FISA "Compromise". You can read his words here: Obama Statement on FISA Compromise, for what it's worth (not much).

Describing his acquiescence to the bill as "weasly", Michael Froomkin at states, Obama Acts Like a Coward:
Today he as good as sold out the fight against FISA’s immunity provisions. While the statement . . . might sound OK, it’s failure to say that the bill is unacceptable in its current form, or to say ‘filibuster’ amounts to a surrender to the fix put in by the leadership. (And, no, this bill is not in any noticeable way an improvement over its predecessor draft. The judicial review provisions are a sham — they don’t test for the legality of any wiretapping, they don’t test for the legality of any request by the administration to engage in wiretapping, they don’t test for whether the recipients of those requests thought or had reason to think that the requests were legal — no, all the court will test is whether the administration says that it made a request. Big deal.)
Paul Krugman of the NYTimes, who was never a big Obama fan to begin with, says in FISA:
My biggest concern about an Obama administration is that, in the end, he won’t make universal health care a priority. My second biggest concern is that “Unity” means never having to say you’re sorry: that in the name of putting past partisanship behind us, the next administration will sweep the abuses of the past 8 years under the rug, the same way Bill Clinton did in 1993; the result of that decision was that the very same people responsible for Iran-Contra showed up subverting our democracy all over again.

Obama’s support for the FISA bill intensifies my second worry. He did say some of the right things, promising to work to get rid of telecom immunity and hold people accountable. But caving on this bill is nonetheless not a good sign.
Jack Balkin suggests that Obama doesn't oppose having as broad powers as President as he can get, so why object to the surveillance authority that would be given to him as president. Why Obama Kinda Likes the FISA Bill (But He Won't Come Out and Say It). Certainly a cynical, but realistic way to put Obama's stance in perspective.

Perhaps his new slogan should be Hopeless.

(Poster part of a campaign from Blue America and Color of Change via Glenn Greenwald)

Cartoon of the Day

Tom Toles, NYTimes

You Say Compromise, I Say Capitulate

You say tomato, I say tomahto. Let's call the whole thing off.

I wish I could say the same about the FISA bill. But, it appears that it's a done deal. A "bipartisan compromise" has been reached on domestic surveillance and telecom immunity reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. "Bipartisan" Solution on Surveillance Unveiled.

Of course, since the White House and Republicans in Congress don't believe in compromise, all of the caving in came from the other side of the aisle -- the Dumbocrats. And, to show how bad it really is, the Republicans are gloating over the deal. As the NYTimes reports, Congress Strikes Deal to Overhaul Wiretap Law:

The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute.

“I think the White House got a better deal than even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, who led the negotiations.

The White House immediately endorsed the proposal, which is likely to be voted on in the House on Friday and in the Senate next week.
A NYTimes editorial rails against this so-called compromise, which is a complete capitulation by any other name, Mr. Bush v. the Bill of Rights:
The bill is not a compromise. The final details are being worked out, but all indications are that many of its provisions are both unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights. The White House and the Congressional Republicans who support the bill have two real aims. They want to undermine the power of the courts to review the legality of domestic spying programs. And they want to give a legal shield to the telecommunications companies that broke the law by helping Mr. Bush carry out his warrantless wiretapping operation.
Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory describes the constitutional carnage that is the latest on FISA, in George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress:
It's even worse than expected. When you read it, it's actually hard to believe that the Congress is about to make this into our law. Then again, this is the same Congress that abolished habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, and legalized George Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program with the "Protect America Act," so it shouldn't be hard to believe at all. Seeing the words in print, though, adds a new dimension to appreciating just how corrupt and repugnant this is:

The provision granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, Title VIII, has the exact Orwellian title it should have: "Protection of Persons Assisting the Government."
See also, Well, That'll Show 'Em!. As the ACLU so eloquently put it, "we at the ACLU think it’s crap. And by “crap” I mean unconstitutional." See This Spade is a Spade: FISA Deal Is Bunk. The synopsis from Obsidian Wings explains it well, FISA "Compromise":
To recap: there are some minor fixes to the FISA law that everyone agrees should be adopted. The sticking point is whether companies that helped the government engage in surveillance that broke the law should receive immunity for their actions. It seems to me clear that the answer is 'no'. First, people who break the law should be held accountable. Second, we're not talking about some private citizen who might understandably have been inclined to give the government the benefit of the doubt on questions of law, but about large companies with serious legal departments. Third, since our government does not seem inclined to tell us exactly what it has been doing, discovery in these lawsuits has been about the only way in which we have found out anything at all. Shutting down these lawsuits might prevent us from ever finding out.

Most importantly, though, when the government asks someone to break the law, they hold a lot of the cards: the prestige of the Presidency, the power to exclude companies from federal contracts, and so on. Just about the only reason someone might have to say no, other than conscience, is the fear of legal liability. By immunizing these companies, we make it much more likely that the next time some President who thinks he has dictatorial powers asks a company to break the law, it will do so. And that's just wrong.
And there is no doubt that immunity would be given to the telecom industry based upon the passage of this law. David Kurtz points out that it's the embodiment of the Nixon rule -- if the President says it's legal, then it is -- which has already occurred, That's Some Compromise:
All they must do is provide a federal district court judge with "substantial evidence" they received a written request from the attorney general or head of an intelligence agency stating the president authorized the surveillance and determined it to be lawful . . . .
A few years ago in Pennsylvania, after a secret midnight congressional pay raise, the public revolted and a reformist movement, PA Clean Sweep, worked to incumbents, with much success. I believe that's what's needed on the federal level as well. Support ActBlue so we could throw all the bums out.

Finally, where is Barack Obama on this important matter? As a lawyer and constitutional law professor, he more than most understands what is at issue here. In the past, he has expressed his opposition to this resolution to the FISA matter. Yet, he now stands silent in the face of near certain passage of a seriously flawed bill. See Obama Silent as Democrats Give Bush More Spying Powers. This is not the kind of change I was hoping for.

Change, Compromise, Capitulate. Sounds like they all mean the same thing these days.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guns in the (Court)House

I suppose the Supreme Court is saving the best for last. Of course, I'm talking about the Heller case, regarding DC's handgun ban. A Key Case on Gun Control. It is widely expected that the court will find that the 2nd Amendment grants an individual right to bear arms and strike down the DC ban. However, there will likely be some permissible limits on ownership. See, e.g., Staring down the barrel and Sanity and the Second Amendment.

In the interim, a gun-related incident in Pittsburgh made me think about my earlier post on guns in the courthouse post-Heller, see Gun Free Zone.

Via Keystone Politics, I read that a radio reporter was arrested in Pittsburgh after he tried to enter the courthouse in Allegheny County with a loaded pistol. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, KDKA radio reporter caught with loaded gun:

A Pittsburgh radio reporter was arrested Monday morning after authorities said he tried to bring a loaded pistol into the Allegheny County Courthouse.

William Robert Milford, 53, of Castle Shannon -- known on KDKA Radio as Rob Milford -- was charged with carrying a firearm without a license and possessing a firearm in a court facility, county Sheriff Bill Mullen said.

Milford had the loaded .38-caliber revolver in his briefcase about 9:30 a.m. when he tried to pass through a courthouse entrance protected by a metal detector and security guard, Mullen said. The gun was confiscated and sheriff's deputies arrested Milford.

Milford told officers he forgot the gun was in the briefcase, Mullen said. It remained unclear why he was carrying the weapon.
In the aftermath of this episode, Milford was pressured to resign by the radio station, after he was was charged with carrying a firearm without a license and possession of a firearm in a court facility. KDKA Radio's Milford resigns over gun incident.

The irony is just too much. As I noted in my previous post, I speculated that despite the expected ruling in favor of individual rights to gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment, I was sure that the Court would somehow stop short of permitting an unfettered right to bear arms. After all, the court wants to prevent gun toting citizens like Milford from coming to court with their six-shooters.

My prediction is that the Court will find the right to bear arms may be an individual right under the 2nd Amendment, but it stops at the courthouse door.

Oh Happy Gay

This is dedicated to my ooh la la friends.

Jon Stewart, as only he could, provides the news report on the gay marriage in California:

The first gay marriage takes place thanks to a recent ruling from the state Supreme Court, and yet the state of California continues to exist.
Gay marriage in California. Floods in the Midwest. Coincidence? I think not. Jon also shows a clip of an interview of Brian Brown of the National Organization of Marriage, speaking out against gay marriage. My gaydar must be off, because it sure went ding, ding as he spoke . . . Hummm.

And finally, the reason for this post. Best line ever, on Jewish Lesbians marrying:
I don’t have a problem with them having children because they’re gay. But I am concerned for the welfare of any child with two Jewish mothers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So Many Things to Choose From

I recently saw someone refer to John McCain's penchant for flip flopping as taking the Straight Talk Express into a U Turn. I thought that was the perfect expression for McCain's political philosophy -- the U Turn Express.

However, there's also his tendency for serial misstatements of fact that deserves note. Among them are a few gems:

From Dispatches from the Culture Wars, McCain:Ignorant or Lying?:

My father, a lifelong Republican, called and left a message on my voicemail yesterday saying that McCain's reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling on habeas corpus and the Gitmo detainees had sealed any chance McCain had for getting his vote in November. And McCain's statement was so ridiculous that one has to wonder if he is really that ignorant of the law or if he was simply lying through his teeth. Here's what he said:

We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called, quote, Habeas Corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate, because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases.
That may be the single dumbest thing said in this entire election so far.
And then there's Will Bunch's contribution, McCain: Most. Ironic. Comment. Ever:

John McCain said something that boggled my mind (easily done, I know) going into the weekend. In an interview with CNN, he said, according to the network, in a story headlined "McCain: Treat Our Wives with Respect":

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain said Friday that every candidate's wife "should be treated with respect, and if there's any disrespectful conduct on the part of anyone, those people should be rejected."

That's interesting, because according to THIS story about McCain's first wife Carol, whom he divorced shortly after McCain met his second wife Cindy at a party and 10 years after Carol McCain (a Philadelphia native, by the way) suffered a horrific auto accident....

* * * *

This article is headlined: "The wife John McCain callously left behind."

But McCain said I am supposed to reject anyone who didn't treat a candidate's wife with respect.

OK, consider it done, then!

Finally, Jeffrey Klein of the Huffington Post describes a John McCain who sounds more like the screw up, frat boy GWBush, rather than the great man of experience due to his military career. See McCain's Secret, Questionable Record. Although he wasn't able to use his family's contacts to avoid service like Bush, he was able to parlay his family's military connections to his advantage. Noting that stories that McCain would have received an admiral's star had he not left the Navy were undoubtedly false, Klein says:
From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.

Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot. According to military historian John Karaagac, "'the Airdales,' the air wing of the Navy, acted and still do, as if unrivaled atop the naval pyramid. They acted as if they owned, not only the Navy, but the entire swath of blue water on the earth's surface." The most accomplished midshipmen compete furiously for the few carrier pilot openings. After four abysmal academic years at Annapolis distinguished only by his misdeeds and malfeasance, no one with a record resembling McCain's would have been offered such a prized career path. The justification for this and subsequent plum assignments should be documented in McCain's naval file.

That John McCain. He's a chip off the old Bush.

Cartoon of the Day

Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The Found

The Supreme Court's finding that even detainees in Guantanamo have the right to challenge their detention under the protections afforded by habeas corpus, show that even the Supreme Court has its limits. As the NYTimes reported, in Justices, 5-4, Back Detainee Appeals for Guantanamo:

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the truncated review procedure provided by a previous law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, “falls short of being a constitutionally adequate substitute” because it failed to offer “the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus.”

Justice Kennedy declared: “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

Jack Balkin of Balkinization describes the scope of the constitutional revolution proposed by the Bush Administration, in This is what a failed revolution looks like:
Following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush and his supporters proposed a significant chance in constitutional norms, centered around increased presidential power to fight the war on terror. This vision included (1) a doctrine of preemptive war, (2) new surveillance techniques, including domestic surveillance, (3) a new system of preventive detention, including detention of american citizens without access to courts, (4) the creation of legal black holes like Guantanamo Bay and CIA black sites, (5) use of torture and torture-lite to obtain information, (6) enhanced secrecy and classification policies, and (7) a version of unitary executive theory that claimed that Congress could not constitutionally limit the President when he claimed to act under his powers as Commander-in-Chief. The last idea was also articulated in (8) the expansion of the use of constitutional signing statements, in which the President would state that he would disregard certain features of laws passed by Congress without telling the public any details about the scope or extent of his non-enforcement.
Our treatment of detainees in Gitmo and elsewhere is reminiscent of "The Disappeared," the dissidents who were abducted by the military junta in Argentina. As there, the campaign by the junta to combat terrorism ended up being worse than the original left wing terrorism it was intended to eliminate.

To give voice to the necessity for protections such as habeas, McClatchy is running a series on the abuses engendered by a system allowed to operate without controls or oversight, as has occurred in Gitmo. As reported in
America's prison for terrorists often held the wrong men:
An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.

McClatchy interviewed 66 released detainees, more than a dozen local officials — primarily in Afghanistan — and U.S. officials with intimate knowledge of the detention program. The investigation also reviewed thousands of pages of U.S. military tribunal documents and other records.

This unprecedented compilation shows that most of the 66 were low-level Taliban grunts, innocent Afghan villagers or ordinary criminals. At least seven had been working for the U.S.-backed Afghan government and had no ties to militants, according to Afghan local officials. In effect, many of the detainees posed no danger to the United States or its allies.

The investigation also found that despite the uncertainty about whom they were holding, U.S. soldiers beat and abused many prisoners.

Prisoner mistreatment became a regular feature in cellblocks and interrogation rooms at Bagram and Kandahar air bases, the two main way stations in Afghanistan en route to Guantanamo.

Details of abuse and torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Bagram, north of Kabul, and elsewhere reveal the pervasive nature of an out of control system, with little or no repercussions. U.S. abuse of detainees was routine at Afghanistan bases. Not surprisingly, rather than preventing terrorism by holding the detainees, we created an environment that created a new breed of terrorists. As detailed in Wrongly jailed detainees found militancy at Guantanamo:

A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.

The radicals were quick to exploit the flaws in the U.S. detention system.

Soldiers, guards or interrogators at the U.S. bases at Bagram or Kandahar in Afghanistan had abused many of the detainees, and they arrived at Guantanamo enraged at America.

The Taliban and al Qaida leaders in the cells around them were ready to preach their firebrand interpretation of Islam and the need to wage jihad, Islamic holy war, against the West. Guantanamo became a school for jihad, complete with a council of elders who issued fatwas, binding religious instructions, to the other detainees.

The fact that our efforts to prevent terrorism has backfired by creating new terrorists due to our mistreatment and mishandling of the detainees is akin to the Administration's destruction of our core constitutional principles as a country having been perverted and destroyed under the auspices of protecting our democracy.

In both cases, it just doesn't work.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Partisan Hackery Rules

I realize that the litany of woes emanating from the Bush Administration sometimes seems never-ending, but high on the list of horribles is the elevation of partisanship as the guiding governing principle from the "Uniter not Divider" in Chief.

I also find it interesting that Scott McClellan's recent comments that the Bush Administration was run as though it was a in a permanent campaign mode, rather than being guided by policy, has received such a surprised reaction. After all, as far back as 2003, John DiIlulio said precisely the same thing, with little reaction from the media or the public.

As I noted some time ago in Remembrance of Things Lost:

This is an Administration that rules solely by politics, so a united America would be contrary to its interests. Ex-White House official, John DiIlulio's words, in Ron Suskind January 2003 article, in Why Are These Men Laughing? still describes it best:
"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
That may, in fact, be the biggest failure (out of many) that will be the legacy of the Bush Administration. To have squandered the goodwill of its people and many in the world in support of its own policial agenda, to have co-opted 9/11 for partisan political purposes, which has furthered the extreme divisions in the country (and the rest of the world) perpetrated by the Republican party.
And so, after 7 plus years of partisan politics ruling the White House, it can't be a surprise that the disease has infected Congress -- and the Supreme Court. David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers notes, in Partisanship prevails in Congress, while U.S. problems go unsolved:
Congress is spending these opening weeks of the general-election campaign trying to score points with voters by forcing partisan opponents to cast embarrassing votes — and doing virtually nothing to ease the nation's economic, energy or foreign crises.

Political posturing is hardly unknown at the Capitol, but since lawmakers returned from their Memorial Day recess June 3, Republicans have halted Democrats' efforts to tackle the gasoline price crisis, Democrats have turned back a Republican bid to find common ground on help for the unemployed and the two sides are deadlocked on funding the Iraq war.

"Things are bad," said Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. "Politics is the focus this year, not policy."

Just in time to prove this point, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham assailed the Supreme Court's ruling that habeas corpus didn't go down with the towers on 9/11. McClatchy reported on Graham's outrage in the recent case, in Graham: Amend Constitution to overturn court's ruling:
A dejected Sen. Lindsey Graham blasted the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday on Guantanamo Bay detainees, calling it 'dangerous and irresponsible.'

* * * *
The Supreme Court repudiated Graham in a 5-4 decision, ruling that the 270 alleged terrorists being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba have a constitutional right to challenge their detentions in federal courts.
So what' Graham's solution? To waste more time by introducing a constitutional amendment, which everyone knows will go nowhere. However, it will be a useful political tool for the GOP, and that's what governance under the Bush years is all about. Pander to the base.

(Cartoon via Bruce Plante, Tulsa World)

Cartoon of the Day

Jim Morin, Miami Herald

Friday, June 13, 2008

Terms of Endearment

The GOP no sooner geared up to attack Michelle Obama than its propaganda arm, Fox News, obliged.

Of course I'm speaking of Fox News referring to Michelle Obama as "Baby Mama."

In making note of this, the Wall St. Journal noted News Outlets Face Increasing Scrutiny in Campaign:

In a campaign that includes the first viable African-American presidential candidate, the lines of appropriate speech have become fuzzy.
As Will Bunch said: Fuzzy?

Of course, Fox issued the usual mea culpa (the 2nd this week alone), but you know that we've only just begun.

Reflecting on this, I had 2 thoughts:

* Where are the feminists crying foul over the sexist treatment of Michelle Obama, a professional woman, with a Harvard Law degree no less, being a "Baby Mama"? This is sexism at its worst, with a dash of racism tossed in. See The Hillary-ization of Michelle Obama. Will the feminists rally to her cause?

* When will Fox use McCain's pet description of his wife, Cindy the Cunt, to describe her? I'd even watch Fox News to see that chyron.

Cartoon of the Day

Jeff Danziger, NYTimes

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Graduate

Yesterday was a big day in the life of our family. Our only child, our daughter graduated from high school.

I've mentioned before that she attended Friends Select, a Quaker School on the Parkway in Center City. It seems she just started and now she's done. In a minute, she'll be off to South Beach U (which is what I call the school she'll be attending in Miami) this fall.

In Quaker tradition, graduation is held in the Meetinghouse (the place of worship) and is a simple, but lovely ceremony. Consistent with that, the students were dark suits and white dresses, rather than caps and gowns.

My daughter bemoaned the lack of cap and gown for months. She threatened to show up at graduation in one but, in the end, acceded to the wishes of the school. But I borrowed a cap and gown and let her don one afterward.

As she heads off to her life, I reminded her what success really is, from a favorite quote:

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded!

~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Crack Before the Bang

I suppose that it was a sign of the big event -- my daughter's high school graduation.

The night before she graduated, the heat wave ended with a major storm. As the Inquirer noted,
Heat wave ends with a bang:

After four steamy days in which being outdoors was as pleasant as standing in front of a hot pizza oven, the region is about to enjoy a run of splendid June weather. But the price of that enjoyment was a terrific - and sometimes destructive - cold front that wreaked havoc as it passed through last night.

The storm swept through quickly, with strong winds, lightning and fierce rain. A loud crack sounded out back, followed by the big bang. Two branches from one of our big trees were draped across the yard, after one of them first touched down on the car of my in-laws. Luckily, there wasn't much damage to the car. Of course, the term branch is relative, since it was the size of a tree itself.

And I feel that I'm doomed to no tree cover facing the adjoining street from our back yard. We have a large back yard, which was enclosed on three sides with foliage from the big, old trees surrounding the area. Our back porch has a beautiful porch swing and I love sitting on the swing on a warm summer night, enjoying the peaceful evening, with the trees providing privacy. We also have a hottub on a deck off the porch, so the privacy was useful for that as well.

I wrote about the loss of a number of trees last summer, when a developer purchased the home behind our house and removed them, see Don't Look Down. As I said then, not only did he tear down an old stone house to built two big homes on the lot, he also cut down over a dozen trees on the lot, many of which were 100 plus year old. He also cut the branches on the trees on my property that grew across the property line.

The branches that came down were from the same tree that he cut last summer, so now it has suffered again. And I've lost yet more tree cover.

Never Too Late

It's never too late to do the right thing.

Not surprisingly, the introduction of Articles of Impeachment by Dennis Kucinich has not received much media attention. See Kucinich Introduces Articles of Impeachment.

As Will Bunch of Attytood notes, The impeachment of George W. Bush:

Last night, a senior member of Congress who was taking part in nationally televised presidential debates just a couple of months ago introduced lengthy impeachment articles against President Bush -- and it was a tree falling in the woods, a tree that apparently wasn't ground into newsprint. Not a word in the Paper of Record about the move by Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and not much elsewhere. Here's the scoop:

Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich took to the House of Representatives floor on Monday evening to introduce a 35-count resolution to impeach President George W. Bush.

Kucinich claimed Bush 'fraudulently' justified the war on Iraq and misled 'the American people and members of Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction so as to manufacture a false case for war.'

'President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office,' Kucinich said.

Kucinich said in January that he planned to launch an impeachment effort against Bush, but delayed his effort after meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Commitee hasn't acted on a bid Kucinich launched last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.
Keith Olbermann did a segment on his show discussing the issues presented in favor of impeachment. Olbermann on Impeachment. See also, Dandelion Salad. Describing the piece, Crooks and Liars noted:
Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley joined Keith to commend Kucinich and his impeachment bill, which is now co-sponsored by Rep. Robert Wexler. While Turley says there are numerous crimes for which Bush could easily be impeached, the President’s greatest ally has been the Democratic Congress who have skirted their constitutional duties and consistently given him a pass rather than practice any oversight. It’s clear impeachment will remain off the table for the remainder of Bush’s term, but as Keith put it, problems like this will never be solved if people like Kucinich and Wexler don’t stand up and say something.
And this is an issue favored by a significant segment of the public. According to an American Research Group poll, 45% of Americans believe there should be an impeachment investigation. See Bill Moyers Journal, Tough Talk on Impeachment.

Of course, on a related note, the rightwingers are concerned enough about stopping any review of the doings of this criminal Bush regime that the mere mention of investigation -- never mind impeachment -- causes havoc. Will Bunch questioned Barack Obama several months ago, asking whether he would consider prosecution of the Bush Administration for crimes committed during their tenure. Obama responded that his Attorney General would review evidence to see if an inquiry was warranted, adding that no one is above the law.

One of the luminaries on the right, Rush Limbaugh, is now equating Obama's words with being a Stalinist, claiming his words are akin to the totalitarian practice of jailing the predecessors when a new president takes office. See Why does Rush Limbaugh hate America (and me)?. Limbaugh also compares this to the prosecution of the Nazi's during the Nuremberg Trials, suggesting that this conduct is reprehensible. That is, he states that we shouldn't hold the Bush Administration responsible, just as we should not have pursued the Nazis for war crimes:
Now, you've heard the term peaceful transfer of power, one of the things that makes our country great. This is the kind of thing that used to happen, probably still does, with Vlad Putin and the gang, but this happened in the Soviet Union, this happened in totalitarian dictator -- you criminalize the policies of your political opponents. But this would be unprecedented. After the administration's left office, to pursue an investigation that might lead to criminal indictments for war crimes and other things. We used to do that to the Nazis. We did do that to the Nazis, the Nuremberg Trials and so forth. This is who today's modern liberals are.
Those damn liberals! Believing in a silly concept called the rule of law.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Bill Schorr, Star Tribune

Give Me Some Dap

As the Field Negro said, when they first did it after the speech, I didn't even notice it. See The "fist-bump" seen around the world.

Of course, I'm talking about the dap heard around the world. Barack and Michelle Obama's 'fist bump of hope' shows them silly in love. As Steve Benen said, The bump heard ’round the world:

If you watched Barack and Michelle Obama at their rally in Minnesota on Tuesday night, you may have noticed a cute moment in which the two had a brief fist-pound (or “dap,” as the kids call it).

All things being equal, it wasn’t exactly the most the newsworthy moment of the night. Was it a sweet moment of affection between the two? Sure. But I wouldn’t characterize the brief gesture as important.

Every morning at my house, as we all head off for our daily work/school routine, I pass out a kiss and my husband and daughter give each other some dap. So it's certainly no big deal in my world.

When I looked at a video clip later, I thought it was endearing. In fact, as Benen noted, it's the sort of thing that would appeal to the younger voter, a sign that Obama was cool.

But not for all.

Ray at Phillybits was the first one to scoop this latest scandal, Media Breaks Latest Obama Scandal To Unknowing Populace, intuiting the real meaning behind the ‘Hezbollah’ style fist-jabbing between Michelle and Barack. As he later reported, E.D. (Extremely Dimwitted) Hill of Fox News picked up his cue, and referred to the gesture as a Terrorist Fist Bump.

I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. For those who live in an Unbearable Whiteness of Being, also known as conservatives, life is a series of threats. Threats to one's way of life, threats to stability of life and threats to changes in life. For them, life is a threat. In fact, 9/11 was the ultimate orgasm, since it has given tremendous substance to the fear that rules their lives and they have been high on the fear ever since.

In fact, I believe for many conservatives, Obama's mantra of change is probably as anathema to them as is his exotic background and racial makeup. Change is the enemy to the way of lives of conservatives, who worship the status quo.

These are the people who promote a reading of the bible that is literal, that does not evolve (same with evolution). These are the people who are the "originalists" of the Constitution. They argue that whatever the original framers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights said, must hold true today, without change. For them, change creates a fear of the unknown. Fear is bad. So change must be bad.

I'm just glad I don't live that way. I'd prefer if you'd give me some dap.

(Cartoon: Speed Bump by Dave Coverly)

Friday, June 06, 2008

RFK -- Conspiracy or Not?

Web TV provided by Ustream

As I noted earlier, Killing Hope, the Coalition on Political Assassinations is hosting a live stream video of a conference on the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, entitled "The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Killing Hope."

The video should be live at 10 PM EST (7 PM in LA, where the conference is being held).

If there are problems with the video here, the
Live video is also available at the COPA website: Coalition On Political Assassinations.

Killing Hope

As I noted yesterday, Long Time Gone, after Bobby Kennedy was shot 40 years ago last night, he died the next day, June 6, 1968.

As is often the case with political assassinations, there are always lingering questions about what really happened.

Tonight in LA there will be a panel discussing the death of RFK, entitled "The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Killing Hope."

It is being put on by the
Coalition On Political Assassinations (COPA).

One of the members of an lefty email list in which I participate is involved in COPA. As John describes it:

COPA is a group of dedicated academics, forensics experts, documentary film makers, medical and ballistic experts.

This June COPA will be holding a conference on the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. The conference is from Friday 6th of June until the 8th. COPA plans to stream the first night of the conference this Friday.

The conference will be attended by William Pepper (attorney for Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray and the King family), Philip Van Praag and Robert Joling (audio experts who have proven the existence of more shots fired), Paul Schrade (Kennedy campaign worker and eyewitness to the assassination), Cynthia McKinney (former Democratic congresswoman and Green party presidential candidate), and several other film makers and researchers. Full listing available at the COPA site.

I will be participating by posting the conference video via a live stream on my blog later this evening. The live stream will start at 7pm Los Angeles time and end at 10pm.

So, the conference will start at 10pm EST.

It's Friday night, so I know many of my pals will either be out and about or sleeping, but it sounds interesting. Check back later.

(Photo via Phawker)