Monthly Archives: June 2006

My Internet Is Broken — Is Yours?

If senators don’t know what they’re talking about, they shouldn’t be talking at all.

Here’s Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) talking about the Net Neutrality bill, and why he opposes it:

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

No, it wasn’t a slip of the tongue.  He made similar mistakes during his whole speech.

Framing the Religion Debate

Michelle Goldberg:

The relevant argument, then, is not about whether there will be prayer in public schools. It’s about whether there will be government-mandated prayer in public schools. The argument is not whether religion can do good things in people’s lives. It’s whether the government should fund religion. The argument is not even whether religious groups should contract with the government to provide social services — Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and others have been doing that for decades. It’s whether religious groups that do receive taxpayer funds should be permitted to proselytize on the public dime, and to refuse to hire those of the wrong faith. The relevant debate is about government-financed religious discrimination. The rest is just a smokescreen to make it seem like defenders of the First Amendment are the ones on the offensive.

Yup.

China Is The U.S. Role Model

It’s ironic.  Conservatives are still clamoring for prosecution and punishment of the New York Times for reporting a story largely known to terrorists — i.e., that we’re following the money trail.  They want the NYT to be penalized for bucking the government.

And that’s where this story comes in:

Chinese media outlets will be fined up to $12,500 each time they report on "sudden events" without prior authorization from government officials, according to a draft law under review by the Communist Party-controlled legislature.

The law, revealed today in most state-run newspapers, would give government officials a powerful new tool to restrict coverage of mass outbreaks of disease, riots, strikes, accidents and other events that the authorities prefer to keep secret. Officials in charge of propaganda already exercise considerable sway over the Chinese media, but their power tends to be informal, not codified in law.

So here we have neo-con emulating the press-barring tactics of Communist China.  Stalin, if he were alive today, would be a Republican.

Right Wing Readership Going Down

According to U.S. Newswire:

At U.S. Politics Today, we thought it might be interesting to see how the right-wing media machine was doing. Not well, it turns out.

During the past three months, for instance, http://rushlimbaugh.com traffic ranking has declined 18 percent. He still huffs and puffs away daily on radio, but advertisers might want to double check the size of his audience. If the bottom has dropped out on him online, it likely has had a similar trend line with his radio show.

Even Fox News, that gold standard of right-wing media, is down 13 percent. Here are the numbers: http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?q=&url=www.foxnews.com

Ann Coulter is coining money by attacking widows and orphans — a new game for her since she’s run out of Democrats, living and dead, to defame and verbally pillage. You would think with all of the attention the promotion of her new book has given her would raise visitor numbers at her Web site, http://anncoulter.com. Nope. Traffic there is down 10 percent.

The audience chart reversal seems to be common across the entire right-wing side of the Internet viewing board. Billoreilly.comhttp://billoreilly.com — has dropped 40 percent in the past three months. Townhall.comhttp://townhall.com — that once popular center for right-wing news and commentary, has fallen by 24 percent. The Washington Times Web site is down by 27 percent. And Matt Drudge, once the hottest right-wing name in Internet sites? Alexa.com says http://drudgereport.com is down 21 percent.

Shakes’ Sis did some own research on her own, focussing on the blog world.  She noted the same results — an across-the-board decline in conservative blog readership:

Focus on the Family down 18%. Free Republic down 19%. Hugh Hewitt down 21%. World Net Daily down 23%. Michelle Malkin down 30%. The Weekly Standard down 37%. Pajamas Media down 39%.

And for liberal sites?  Some went down, but most went up.

Raw Story up 6%. Center for American Progress up 12%. Crooks and Liars up 17%. Think Progress up 41%.

Lookee What I Found…

From the Geneva Convention Commentaries:

In short, all the particular cases we have just been considering confirm a general principle which is embodied in all four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, or again, a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. ‘ There is no ‘ intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can be outside the law. We feel that that is a satisfactory solution — not only satisfying to the mind, but also, and above all, satisfactory from the humanitarian point of view.

The Winger Response To Hamdan

Entirely predictable.

They’re getting all outraged and pulling the "activist judges" crap.  Here, for example, is the editorial at NRO:

As yesterday’s decision again demonstrates, this Court would rather impose its preferences on us than simply follow the law. We should find this unacceptable in any case. But when the consequences of the Court’s arrogance rise to the level of life and death, there is only one word to describe what it is: an outrage.

And again at Real Clear Politics:

Justice Breyer’s concurrence says that Congress didn’t give the President a blank check to fight the war on terror. But the Constitution also doesn’t give the justices a blank check to write the law.

Unfortunately, the "courts gone wild" knee-jerk reaction doesn’t make any sense with respect to Hamdan.  The Supreme Court did not write any law or expand its own power.  The decision acknowledges the role of Congress in regulating military tribunals.  The President, the court said, has to comply with Congress.

But, as I said, this sort of "judicial activism" parroting is to be expected.  Greenwald opines:

For all their talk of judicial activism, Bush followers reveal themselves as the ultimate judicial activists whenever they discuss judicial decisions. The crux of the decision yesterday turned on relatively obscure and legalistic questions involving the legal effects of Congressional enactment of the UCMJ, rules of statutory construction as applied to Common Article 3, and the retroactivity of jurisdiction-stripping statutes. Among most Bush followers purporting to condemn this decision as an act of judicial tyranny, you won’t find any discussion of those legal issues, because they know nothing about them and don’t care about them.

All they know is that the Court reached a result they don’t like, and worse, it is a result that contradicted the President’s will, so it is, by definition, the by-product of pro-terrorist judicial activism. Within hours — and certainly without even having the time to read the opinions — Bush followers who never thought about the UCMJ or statutory construction issues concerning Article 3 were able instantaneously to condemn this decision as the by-product of judicial overreach. As always, "judicial activism" has no meaning other than "the reaching of a result by a court which those who wield the term dislike."

Bad Apples

Good lord:

BEIJI, Iraq – Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday.

The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of raping.

***

There is no indication what led soldiers to this home. The investigation just cracked open. We’re just beginning to dig into the details."

However, a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and has been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.

Now, here’s what makes an unsettling story worse.  Instead of condemning these soldiers (assuming the allegations to be true), the wingnuts will blame the media for reporting this story.

Go figure.

Mark Levin Is A Moron

Publius beat me to it.  I was going to post the exact same thing:

Mark Levin, NRO:

Congress and the Court are systematically stripping the presidency of war-making powers. Congress demands that the president get court approval before intercepting enemy communications (we call that intelligence gathering) and the Court demands that the president get statutory support from Congress before he can use military tribunals to try terrorists.

And yet, neither Congress nor the Supreme Court have any explicit constitutional authority to make these decisions.

United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8:

The Congress shall have power . . .

To constitute tribunals
inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish
piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

How About “Scissors, Rock, Paper”?

The Holy Trinity is getting a makeover:

When referring to the Trinity, most Christians are likely to say “Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”

But leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are suggesting some additional designations: “Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb,” or perhaps “Overflowing Font, Living Water, Flowing River.”

Then there’s “Rock, Cornerstone and Temple” and “Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation and Dove of Peace.”

The phrases are among 12 suggested but not mandatory wordings essentially endorsed this month by delegates to the church’s policy-making body to describe a “triune God,” the Christian doctrine of God in three persons.

The Rev. Mark Brewer, senior pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, is among those in the 2.3-million-member denomination unhappy with the additions.

“You might as well put in Huey, Dewey and Louie,” he said.

Bin Laden Hearts Bush

Remember back in the 2004 election, when the GOP talking point was that bin Laden was rooting for a Democrat to win?  It was repeated over and over again, and parroted by the media.

Of course, that was just a talking point.  The truth is, Bush has been berry berry good to bin Laden.  Al Qaeda, once a fringe radical group, is now the cause celebre of every Islamic malcontent.  Iraq, for example, has done little to decrase the ranks of al Qaeda and much to increase its ranks throughout the world and the Middle East.

But what we didn’t know back in 2004, we know now: The U.S. intelligence community believed that bin Laden wanted a Bush victory.  Read more here.

No No No No No….

It astounds me how stupid some law enforcement people can be about, you know, the law:

NASHUA – A city man is charged with violating state wiretap laws by recording a detective on his home security camera, while the detective was investigating the man’s sons.

Michael Gannon, 49, of 26 Morgan St., was arrested Tuesday night, after he brought a video to the police station to try to file a complaint against Detective Andrew Karlis, according to Gannon’s wife, Janet Gannon, and police reports filed in Nashua District Court.

Police instead arrested Gannon, charging him with two felony counts of violating state eavesdropping and wiretap law by using an electronic device to record Karlis without the detective’s consent.

This should be patently obvious, but I’ll say it quite simply.

(1)  It is not against the law to videoptape or record a public officer performing public duties.   A police officer works for the people, and when he is performing his duties in that capacity, he does not have any "rights".

(2)  This is especially so when the recording is done in the citizen’s own home!

Jeez.

Hamdan Perspectives

What Hamdan means — and doesn’t mean: There’s plenty of good analysis at OrinKerr.com and of course SCOTUSBlog.

Orin Kerr also cites an interesting New Yorker piece about David Addington, Bush’s "legal mind behind the war on terror"  It’s pretty clear from the Hamdan decision that Addington, among others, were simply barking up the wrong tree.  The article quotes an Addington colleague:

[A] former high-ranking lawyer for the Administration, who worked closely with Addington, and who shares his political conservatism, said that, in the aftermath of September 11th, “Addington was more like Cheney’s agent than like a lawyer. A lawyer sometimes says no.” He noted, “Addington never said, ‘There is a line you can’t cross.’” Although the lawyer supported the President, he felt that his Administration had been led astray. “George W. Bush has been damaged by incredibly bad legal advice,” he said.

Well, that’s true, although let’s be real — this Administration isn’t interested in good and objective legal advice — the just want legal advice which supports the Administration’s pre-determined position.

Article 3 Interpretation

Eugene Volokh notices something in the Hamdan decision.  It appears that none of the justices –even the dissenters — take the position that Article 3 doesn’t apply to Gitmo detainees (although Scalia and Alito are silent).

Even Thomas, Volokh notes, seems to agree — although he disputes the particular interpretation to be applied to Article 3.  Volokh quotes Thomas at length:

The President’s interpretation of Common Article 3 is reasonable and should be sustained. The conflict with al Qaeda is international in character in the sense that it is occurring in various nations around the globe. Thus, it is also “occurring in the territory of” more than “one of the High Contracting Parties.” The Court does not dispute the President’s judgments respecting the nature of our conflict with al Qaeda, nor does it suggest that the President’s interpretation of Common Article 3 is implausible or foreclosed by the text of the treaty. Indeed, the Court concedes that Common Article 3 is principally concerned with “furnish[ing] minimal protection to rebels involved in. . . a civil war,” ante, at 68, precisely the type of conflict the President’s interpretation envisions to be subject to Common Article 3. Instead, the Court, without acknowledging its duty to defer to the President, adopts its own, admittedly plausible, reading of Common Article 3. But where, as here, an ambiguous treaty provision (“not of an international character”) is susceptible of two plausible, and reasonable, interpretations, our precedents require us to defer to the Executive’s interpretation.

I boldened the sentence that trips me up.

The Supreme Court has a "duty to defer to the President" on interpretations of international law?

What the fuck? !?

This is extremely troublesome, especially in light of how the President is keen on using signing statements to re-interpret domestic laws.

Justice Thomas, it is the job of the courts to interpret law — not merely to rubberstamp what the President thinks the law is.  Scary.

The “American Values” Agenda

Here’s the "American Values" Agenda being pushed by the GOP (from the website of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL)):

  • Pledge Protection Act (HR 2389; Akin)
    Summary: Protects the Pledge of Allegiance from attacks by activist federal judges seeking to rule it unconstitutional.
  • Freedom to Display the American Flag Act (HR 42; Bartlett)
    Summary: Ensures an individual has the right to display the U.S. flag on residential property.
  • The Public Expression of Religion Act (HR 2679; Hostettler)
    Summary: Ensures local officials and communities do not face financial ruin to defend their rights to free speech under the Constitution (provides that when state or local officials are sued over public expressions of religion, no monetary damages, costs, or attorney’s fees may be awarded).
  • Marriage Amendment (HJRes 88; Musgrave)
    Summary: Constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman
  • Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (HR 356; C. Smith)
    Summary: Requires that those performing late-term abortions inform the woman seeking an abortion of the medical evidence that the unborn child feels pain, and ensure that if she chooses to continue with the abortion procedure, she has the option of choosing anesthesia for the child, so that the unborn child’s pain is less severe.
  • Human Cloning Prohibition Act (HR 1357; D. Weldon)
    Summary: Bans human cloning and the importation of products derived from a cloned human embryo (e.g. stem cells).
  • BATFE Reform (HR 5092; Coble)
    Summary: Reforms the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATFE) to protect citizens’ rights.
  • Internet Gambling Prohibition (Leach/Goodlatte):
    Summary: Addresses the issue of illegal internet gambling by making gambling laws apply equally to the internet.
  • Permanent Tax Relief for Families
    Summary: Likely series of votes on the child tax credit, marriage penalty relief, tax incentives for adoption, and other priorities for American citizens.
  • Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act (HR 5013; Jindal)
    Summary: Prohibits governments from using federal funds to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens during emergencies.

It’s off to a bad start.

Republicans failed to protect the words "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance — the first item on the list above — in a House Judiciary Committee vote.

Even though Republicans have a six person advantage on the Committee, seven Republicans skipped the vote and fourteen Democrats opposed the challenge to the courts, resulting in a 15-15 tie.

RELATED:  Speaking of "American values", get a load of Tom Delay joking with other Republicans congressmen about "beaver".  And social conservatives like these people?

The Myth Of Al Qaeda

Michael Hirsch writes a convincing article on how, thanks to Bush’s wars, al Qaeda has emerged from a rag-tag group of (admittedly dangerous and occasionally successful) religious fanatics to a full-fleged global mainstream movement — all since 9/11.  He concludes:

But there was substantial evidence showing that, up to 9/11, Al Qaeda could barely hold its act together, that it was a failing group, hounded from every country it tried to roost in (except for the equally lunatic Taliban-run Afghanistan). That it didn’t represent the mainstream view even in the jihadi community, much less the rest of the Muslim world. This is the reality of the group that the Bush administration has said would engage us in a "long war" not unlike the cold war—the group that has led to the transformation of U.S. foreign policy and America’s image in the world. The intelligence community generally agrees that the number of true A-list Al Qaeda operatives out there around the time of 9/11 was no more than about 1,000, perhaps as few as 500, most in and around Afghanistan. It is also fairly well established that bin Laden and his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, were engaged in a fierce pre-9/11 struggle with their own meager band of followers over whether it was wise to take on the "far enemy"—the United States—when many jihadis really wanted to engage the "near enemy," their national regimes, like Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The ultimate tragedy of the Iraq war was not only that it diverted the U.S. from the knockout blow against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan—the deaths of bin Laden and Zawahiri would likely have persuaded most jihadis it was wiser to focus on the near enemy—but that Iraq also altered the outcome of Al Qaeda’s internal debate, tipping it in bin Laden’s favor. "Iraq ended that debate because it fused the near and the far enemy," as Arquilla puts it succinctly. America ventured into the lands of jihad and willingly offered itself as a target in place of the local regimes. And as a new cause that revived the flagging Al Qaeda movement. It is, no doubt, bin Laden’s greatest victory.

More on Hamdan: Torture and the Geneva Conventions, AUMF and FISA

Marty Lederman has pinpointed the BIG news about Hamdan decision, which is this:

More importantly, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today’s ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. See my further discussion here.

This almost certainly means that the CIA’s interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).

If I’m right about this, it’s enormously significant.

Now, I trust Marty, but my initial question is: is this actually a holding of the case, or was it dicta?

UPDATE:  Glenn Greenwald has a very good bottom-line summary of the case and what it means — readable to the average layman.

UPDATE:  I’ve perused the opinion that pertains to this (the entire Hamdan opinion is 185 pages long — good God!).

The Government argued that the conflict with al Qaeda is not a conflict covered by the 1949 Geneva Conventions.  They have a point — Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions states renders protections only in "cases of declared war or any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties".  Al Qaeda, obviously, was not a signatory ("contracting party") to the Geneva Convention accords.  Since Hamdan himself was detained not as a result of the War with the Taliban (Afghanistan is a signatory to the Geneva Convention), the Article 2 protections do not apply to him (so argues the U.S. government).

However, SCOTUS notes that Article <i>3</i> of the Geneva Conventions covers situations where one of the parties in the conflict is not a "contracting party".  Article 3 provides that in a "conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party shall be bound to apply, as a minimum" certain provisions protecting (among others) "members of armed forces who have alid down their arms and …those placed [in] detention."

In other words, since Hamdan was captured in Afghanistan (a signatory nation to the Geneva Convention), he is entited to certain protection under the Geneva Convention accords.

The government argued that the the War against al Qaeda is "of an international character", so Article 3 doesn’t apply.  SCOTUS thinks that is the wrong interpretation.  The conflict in which Hamdan was arrested/captured was a conflict between two nations — the U.S. and Afghanistan. 

That makes sense to me.  WWII was, at once, an internal fight against global Naziism, but it was also — let’s be real — a war between countries.

Therefore, certain protections of the Geneva Conventions apply.  Now, the Hamdan case isn’t about torture, but that’s one of the major implications: "enemy combatents" are subject to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, even if al Qaeda itself was not a signatory to those accords.\

SOME INITIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE DISSENTS:

Scalia was unusually unflowery.  He believed that SCOTUS did not have jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place (for reasons I won’t get into).  Therefore, he didn’t opine on whether substantive matters, i.e., whether or not the military tribunals were illegal under U.S. law or international law.

That task was left to Thomas.  Thomas’ dissent is long, but he on this issue, he basically argues that the President is Commander-in-Chief, and that Congress, by enacting the Military Code, empowered the Commander-in-Chief to do whatever he damn well pleases with respect to detainees.  (He also argues that the Geneva Conventions do not apply).

Thomas complains that the Hamdan decision would undermine Bush’s ability "to prevent future attacks" and  would "hamper the President’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy".

Well, that’s nice, but hardly the point.  The Supreme Court doesn’t set military policy.  Congress regulates the armed forces.  As Justice Breyer pointed out in his concurrence (clearly a response to Thomas) — if the President wants a "blank check" to run military commissions however he wants, then he can go to Congress and ask for the blank check.  But Congress hasn’t given it to him yet, and even then, Congress cannot supersede the agreements we made during the Geneva Conventions.

Here’s the key graf from Breyer’s response (jopined by Kennedy, take note) to Thomas:

Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation’s ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation’s ability to determine—through democratic means—how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same.

MORE FROM THINK PROGRESS:  The Court’s decision impacts the wiretapping program….

The impact of today’s Supreme Court decision on military commissions goes well beyond Guantanamo. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force – issued by Congress in the days after 9/11 – is not a blank check for the administration. From the opinion:

Neither the AUMF [Authorization for the Use of Military Force] nor the DTA [Detainee Treatment Act] can be read to provide specific, overriding authorization for the commission convened to try Hamdan. Assuming the AUMF activated the President’s war powers, see Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U. S. 507, and that those powers include authority to convene military commissions in appropriate circumstances, see, e.g., id., at 518, there is nothing in the AUMF’s text or legislative history even hinting that Congress intended to expand or alter the authorization set forth in UCMJ Art. 21.

The point here is that the AUMF does not authorize activity that was not specifically contemplated in the text or legislative history. This is incredibly significant. The administration is relying on the AUMF to justify its warrantless wiretapping program. Here’s Alberto Gonzales on 12/19/05:

Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.

ORIN KERR:

If you plan on working your way through the 185 pages of Hamdan opinions today, here’s what you have in front of you:

Justice Stevens wrote the main opinion — 73 pages long –  which is a 5-Justice majority opinion in part and a 4-Justice judgement of the Court in part.
Justice Breyer wrote a 1-page concurrence joined by Souter, Kennedy, and Ginsburg.

Justice Kennedy wrote a 20-page concurrence, parts of which were joined by Souter, Ginburg, and Breyer.

Justice Scalia wrote a 24-page dissent on the jurisdictional and abstention issues that was joined by Thomas and Alito.

Justice Thomas wrote a 49-page dissent on the merits, joined by Scalia and in part by Alito.

Justice Alito wrote a 10-page dissent on the merits, joined in part by Thomas and Scalia.

Breaking News: SCOTUS Rules Against Bush On Gitmo Detainees

Just got the CNN email alert which says:

The Supreme Court rules President Bush overstepped his authority with military war crimes trials for foreigners held at Guantanamo Bay in a case involving a former driver for Osama bin Laden.

No full story yet.  Obviously, I’ll be updating this….

UPDATE: Marty Lederman on what the Hamdan case is about:

There is little or no question about the constitutionality of the military commissions. (Although there is an outside possibility the Court will rule that the alien defendants are protected by the Due Process Clause (see footnote 15 of Rasul) and that the commissions fail to provide due process.)

Nor, in my view, is there any real question that Congress has as a general matter authorized the use of military commissions to try crimes against the laws of war. That was essentially the holding of cases such as Quirin and Yamashita, and subsequently Congress re-enacted 10 USC 821, without calling into question those decisions.

The questions in Hamdan are, instead, whether Congress has authorized the types of commissions that the President has created — i.e., whether the commissions, as presidentially authorized and as implemented, conform to statutory authority — and whether and to what extent these commissions violate any restrictions that the statutes expressly or implicitly impose.

The most important restriction is likely to be that the commissions must themselves comply with the laws of armed conflict (LOAC). (Several Justices pressed the SG on this point at oral argument, suggesting that if Congress authorized the military to convene trials for violations of the laws of war, surely Congress would have insisted that those trials themselves comply with the laws of war.)

And then the key question becomes what, exactly, the laws of armed conflict require with respect to such commissions, and whether these commissions meet those specifications. And in determining that question, most of the attention will likely be on Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which might apply here as a matter of treaty obligation (a question on which the DC Circuit split 2-1), and which in any event likely reflects the customary LOAC to which the commissions must adhere. (More on the importance of Common Article 3 here and here.)

UPDATE:  SCOTUSBlog gives the bottom line:

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Congress did not take away the Court’s authority to rule on the military commissions’ validity, and then went ahead to rule that President Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention. The vote was 5-3, with the Chief Justice not taking part.

The Court expressly declared that it was not questioning the government’s power to hold Salim Ahmed Hamdan "for the duration of active hostilities" to prevent harm to innocent civilians. But, it said, "in undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction."

That quotation was from the main opinion, written by Justice John Paul Stevens. That opinion was supported in full by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote separately, in an opinion partly joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter. Kennedy’s opinion did not support all of Stevens’ discussion of the Geneva Convention, but he did find that the commissions were not authorized by military law or that Convention.

The decision was 5-3 with Alito, Scalia, and Thomas being the dissenters.  The Chief Justice took no part because he dealt with this case as a lower court judge (but even if he had, it would only be 5-4).

MORE FROM SCOTUSBLOG:

Justice Breyer, joined by Ginsburg, Kennedy and Souter, wrote separately to answer the dissenters’ complaint that the ruling would hamper the President’s ability to deal with a new and deadly enemy.

Allow me to interrupt at this point to say that the dissenters (Alito, Scalia and Thomas) are wankers.

The Court’s conclusion, Breyer said, "ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the Executive a ‘blank check.’…Indeed, Congress has denied the President the legislative auhority to create military commissions of the kind at issue here. Nothing prevents the President from returning to Congress tgo seek the authority he believes necessary." The Breyer opinion included a mini-lecture on the virtue of presidential consultation with Congress, at least "where, as here, no emergency prevents" such consultation. "The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same."

Tell it, Breyer.

Faux Outrage

The GOP/Bush outrage against the New York Times for supposedly spilling anti-terrorist operational secrets is bullshit.

Back in 2002, the United States Customs Office was openly talking about Operation Green Quest, a program to track the financial programs of would-be terrorists. 

In fact, the government published a pamphlet about it.

In fact, the pamphlet went into greater detail than the New York Times article. It gives a list of the kinds of financial transactions that are "red flag" indicators that terrorist money is moving around.

If the New York Times is committing treason for revealing these "secrets" in 2006, why was it okay for the government to publish those secrets in greater detail four years ago?

You can see the actual government pamphlet here (PDF format).  It’s still on the U.S. Treasury Department website.  Take note of the date it was published.

More at AmericaBlog.

SCOTUS Decides Texas Gerrymandering Case; Nobody Sure Who Won

There were six different opinions in this case.  Here’s the breakdown:

"KENNEDY, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts II–A and III, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, GINSBURG, AND BREYER, JJ., joined, an opinion with respect to Parts I and IV, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and ALITO, J., joined, an opinion with respect to Parts II–B and II–C, and an opinion withrespect to Part II–D, in which SOUTER and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BREYER, J., joined as to Parts I and II. SOUTER, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which GINSBURG, J., joined. BREYER, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. ROBERTS, C. J., filed an opinion concurring in part, concurring in the judgment in part, and dissenting in part, in which ALITO, J., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which THOMAS, J., joined, and in which ROBERTS, C. J., and ALITO, J., joined as to Part III."

Yeah,  I don’t know who won either, or what the Court actually, you know, decided.

Lyle Denniston wades into the deep grass, fortunately.

Apparently, it was mostly a victory for those who want to preserve their political power by gerrymandering congressional district lines.  Maybe.

Pickle-phobia

For no reason whatsover, I present this bizarre clip from The Maury Povich Show in which our Maury generously helps a terrified young girl overcome her debilitating fear of — wait for it — pickles.

I don’t know whether to laugh (probably not) or cry (no, not that either).

A Soldier’s Salute

Ben Shapiro, not surprisingly, thinks that anyone who burns a flag hates America, and publicly desecrates the soldiers who fought to preserve that flag blah blah blah, which is why there should be a No Flag Burning Amendment giving the government more power and taking away liberties from, you know, the people.

A soldier comments on Ben’s article:

As an American serving in the Army for over 20 years I wear the American Flag on the right shoulder of my uniform everyday. I fly a flag respectfully in front of my house. When I recently returned from a year long deployment to Iraq, the first thing I saw when I got off the plane was USO and Red Cross volunteers holding flags. The site brought tears to my eyes and the thought of that sends chills up my spine today six months after the fact. I will also never forget the flag draped coffin and the folded flag given to the widow of one of my best friends who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan last year. And I constantly look out over the field here on FT Stewart with over 200 trees and flags planted in memory of my fellow soldiers that died during our recent deployment. Of all the things I have been called unpatriotic is not one of them. I love the country that the flag is a symbol of and thought of desecrating that flag is about as repulsive an act of speech as I can imagine. It ranks right up there with the people protesting at military funerals or outside or veterans hospitals.

However, more important to me then the flag is the constitution. I have pledged my allegiance to the flag and to the Republic for which the flag stands, but it is the constitution that I swore to uphold and defend. The constitutional amendments that guarantee our right to protest are one of the freedoms that make our country a place worth sacrificing my life for. As repulsive as it is, flag burning is political "discourse" and it is a very bad precedent to offer amendments to something as good as our constitution that limit freedoms, especially ones that are so vital. The fact is in over 200 years since the ten amendments in the "bill of rights" were passed, less than another 20 amendments have been necessary. Again a document this good should not be tampered with lightly. While on most things I do not agree with the democrats or the liberal left, on this one they got it correct.

RELATED:  Speaking of soldiers, a marine who appeared in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 was killed in Iraq.

Viagraholics Anonymous

The organization sends an open letter to Rush Limbaugh (and it’s not a joke — they’re being sincere):

To Our Fellow Viagraholic:

We feel your pain. We’ve been there, and we too have suffered the humiliation and shame of having our lives torn apart by Viagra abuse.

Rush, it doesn’t have to be this way. We at Viagraholics Anonymous are here to offer you hope.

We faced our addiction and are now on the path of recovery. If we can do it, so can you. We’re your brothers, and we want to help you spare yourself any more suffering due to this insidious addiction.

We know all the games. Hiding the pills. Lying to doctors. Getting multiple prescriptions, or prescriptions in someone else’s name. We tried all the same tricks, and like you, eventually most of us got caught.

Rush, your experience at the Palm Beach airport was a wake-up call. Sometimes it takes a moment like this to shake you up and make you realize that you do, indeed, have a problem with Viagra. We call this "hitting bottom." Use this opportunity to turn your life back toward sanity.

You can make jokes about it all you want; it’s your job, after all, to entertain people. But we know how you’re hurting inside. You can kid others, but don’t kid yourself – this addiction will destroy your life, your career, your health, and your relationships.

The first step in recovery is to admit that you’re powerless over Viagra. Then, with support from other recovered Viagraholics, you can break the hold and reclaim your life and your dignity.

Help is out there, Rush. All you have to do is ask. We invite you to come to a Viagraholics Anonymous meeting and join us. The choice is yours – our door is open to you.

There is one A-list political blogger (I can’t remember who right now) who has been treating this Rush-Viagra thing without snark and snicker.  And so I am moved to point out the obvious: drug addiction is not funny; it is no laughing matter.

Except when it happens to Rush.

Barack Gets It Wrong

I’m a big fan of Barack Obama, and hope to see him in the Oval Office someday, but he’s just plain wrong here:

Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats on Wednesday for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people," and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans.

"Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation. Context matters," the Illinois Democrat said in remarks prepared for delivery to a conference of Call to Renewal, a faith-based movement to overcome poverty…

At the same time, he said, "Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square."

As a result, "I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy."

All he is doing is here is employing the fake Republican talking point that "Democrats" are godless and attacking religion.  It’s not like you see Democrats/liberals urging people to stop praying and then handing them a "Howard Dean for President" button.

And secularists don’t ask people to abandon their religious beliefs when they enter the public square.  They merely ask that people refrain from using the taxpayer-funded "public square" to propogate their religious beliefs on others.  Surely, Obama understands the difference.

Atrios agrees:

Dear Senator Obama,

If you think it’s important to court evangelicals, then court them. If, on the other hand, you think it’s important to confirm and embrace the false idea that Democrats are hostile to religion in order to set yourself apart, then continue doing what you’re doing. It won’t help the Democrats, and it probably won’t even help you, but whatever makes you happy.

Love and kisses,

Atrios

The thing is, the gap between the Democratic platform and Jesus Christ is much smaller than the GOP and Christ.  Democrats care about the poor.  So did Jesus.  Democrats care about the sick.  So did Jesus.  And so on. 

So yes, Democrats should do more to reach out to evangelicals and make them understand that if Jesus was a living politician in 2006, he would be advocating universal health care — not having the Ten Commandments in schoolrooms.

UPDATE:  Pam Spaulding has similar thoughts:

There is not a lack of acknowledgment of faith and the role it plays in American lives, it’s dismay at the buy-in by the Democratic establishment of the Republican spin that the faith community is only made up of those who are socially conservative.

This is partially a failure of the voices in the progressive religious community to make inroads in the debate, to effectively counter the fundamantalist fringe, and clearly the message is still not getting through when you have Barack Obama uttering this…

No, the issue is that politicians, beholden to the fringe religious movement, want to force, quite specifically, their view of the world, a set of religious standards on everyone — and to enact legislation that reflects the prejudices spurred by that perspective.

And make no mistake, these folks mean “Christianity” as the fundamentalists define it. The fundie movement has as its objective the demonization/recloseting of gays and the control of the sexuality and reproductive freedom of women. They want to merge church and state. These are the folks that the Dems want to court?

There is an anti-religion element on the left that has no patience for any of this, and they also have a hard time remembering that the people of faith are not all bible beating whack jobs. Many in the faith community can be courted — just not the fundamentalists, who cannot be reasoned with.

It really is incumbent on the progressive religious community to continue to speak out on this matter, to stop the spin being perpetrated by the Rovian right.

***

Obama’s position reflects a decision to ignore the political goals of the religious right, which is guided and cloaked by their perversion of faith.

Countries continue to fight wars over religion and our Framers knew that we needed to keep this sh*t separated.

This is why we are having to painfully, continuously work out the details over which issues are church/state separation matters when it comes to political institutions and power. It is messy by necessity.

Unfortunately the right has been able to frame the issues, and the sad, crappy truth is the Dems just buy in to the spin, rather than counter the argument.

Rapture Database

Um.  Whatever:

If you wish to do something now that will help your unbelieving friends and family after the rapture, you need to add those persons email address to our database. Their names will be stored indefinitely and a letter will be sent out to each of them on the first Friday after the rapture. Then they will receive another letter every friday after that.

This rapture letter service is FREE and will hopefully gain the person you send it to an eternity in heaven.

I wonder what the letter will say?

Dear Friend:

If you have received this letter, then you’ve probably noticed that those who have accepted Christ as their savoir are no longer walking the Earth, and our now at Jesus’ side.  You may have also noticed that you are standing in a sea of fire and vomit, while tiny weasel-devils slowly gnaw at your entrails.

May we take this opportunity to suggest that you accept Christ into your heart?

Seriously, if the RaptureTM comes, I’m not sure I’ll be checking my emails much.

Flag Amendment Fails

Burn ’em if you got ’em.

Meanwhile, there’s delusions at the Corner.  John Podheretz to fellow Cornerite Jonah Goldberg:

Jonah, I also oppose the flag-burning amendment. But as a strictly Machiavellian matter, as a sheerly political stunt, you have to admit that it’s one of those peculiar gifts that keeps on giving. Republicans can bring it up every few years or so during an election year to torment Democrats and drive the New York Times and Jonathan Alter into a state of near-psychosis.

So, Republicans in Congress engage in a silly political stunt, trying to create an amendment that most people oppose — those Republicans then lose — and that is good for the GOP and bad for the Democrats?

What a wonderful happy bubble the Corner lives in.

Magic Fingers

Breaking up is hard to do:

CORPUS CHRISTI — A woman received a severed human finger in the mail along with a threatening letter from her ex-boyfriend that said, "This is my last chance to touch you," police said.

Corpus Christi Police Capt. John Houston said police weren’t sure which finger was removed or how, but that it appeared to have been washed before it was mailed Friday.

"It was a clean cut," Houston said. "It wasn’t mangled."

The 32-year-old woman filed for an emergency protective order from her boyfriend last week.

Sending severed body parts to your ex-girlfriend.  I can’t imagine how that failed to win her back.

The Fine Print

The Citizen’s Flag Alliance is a public interest group with one cause: a constitutional amendment forbidding the desecration of the U.S. flag.

To support their outrage, they informed the Senate that the incidents of flag burning has increased 33% in the past year.

Thirty-three percent.  Sounds alarming, don’t it?

What the CFA hides is this fact: Yeah, it went up 33% —from three incidents to four.

Freedom Of The Press Threatened

The winger forces, including Bush himself, are screaming for the collective head of the New York Times for its article revealing that the United States monitors bank transactions of would-be terrorists.  (Interestingly — or perhaps not — the rightwing wrath is directed solely at The New York Times, not at the conservative Wall Street Journal or L.A. Times, which also reported the same story).

Glenn Greenwald has the most cohesive and complete response.

He first destroys the central prop of the right’s outrage — that the NYT revealed to terrorists our secret techniques to catch them, thus endangering lives.  As Greenwald says, this is simply untrue.  In this speech in April 2004, Bush himself specifically told a large crowd:

See, part of the way to make sure that we catch terrorists is we chase money trails.

Furthermore, a group blog consisting of former government anti-terrorism experts featured an article by a former State Department official, listing several other Internet-available sources which exposed the money-tracking program years ago:

[R]eports on US monitoring of SWIFT transactions have been out there for some time. The information was fairly well known by terrorism financing experts back in 2002. The UN Al Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Group, on which I served as the terrorism financing expert, learned of the practice during the course of our monitoring inquiries. The information was incorporated in our report to the UN Security Council in December 2002. That report is still available on the UN Website.

An MIT paper discussed the pros and cons of such practices back in 1995. Canada’s Financial Intelligence Unit, FINTRAC,, for one, has acknowledged receiving information on Canadian origin SWIFT transactions since 2002. Of course, this info is provided by the banks themselves.

So the notion that the New York Times was treasonously divulging state secrets is simply absurd.

And when you think about it, if YOU were a terrorist, wouldn’t you ASSUME that the U.S. was doing that kind of thing ANYWAY?

Greenwald also mocks the laughable argument that the New York Times wants to help the terrorists.  Really, this is silly rhetoric.  The New York Times, located in Times Square (a prime target for terrorists) really doesn’t want to help terrorists, and anyone who seriously suggests that it simply smearing due to the lack of rational arguments.

Greenwald also does a nice job of talking about how the Founding Fathers were adamant about securing the guarantee of a free press even if it hindered fonctionality of the government.  I quote at length:

The reason the Founders guaranteed a free press is to ensure that there would be an adversary of the Government, an entity which uncovers and discloses government conduct which political leaders want to conceal. As a result, it was hardly unforeseen by the Founders that the Government would be hostile and resentful of the press. Hostility and adversarial struggles were supposed to be an intrinsic attribute of the government-press relationship.

And the Founders equally recognized that, as a result of this inherent conflict, the Government would attempt to do exactly what the Bush administration and its supporters are now actively pursuing — that is, using governmental power (such as the power of anti-press legislation, prosecution and/or imprisonment) to forcibly limit what the media can report and/or to intimidate them from reporting facts which the Government wanted to conceal. The Constitution resolves that conflict in favor of the press in the First Amendment to the Constitution by making the prohibition on anti-press government restraints absolute and unambiguous.

Bush supporters want nothing less than to re-visit the Founders’ resolution and reverse it. They want to replace the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin with regard to press freedoms with the superior judgment of Dick Cheney, Congressman Peter King and Michelle Malkin, who want to imprison reporters for what they publish. They simply don’t believe in the same principles that the Founders embraced and enshrined for our country. These observations from Jefferson simply leave no doubt about that:

Jefferson warned:

"Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions."

And in the debate over whether to favor excessive disclosure or excessive government secrecy, Jefferson left little doubt as to how that conflict was resolved by the Founders: in choosing "government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter."

Bush supporters plainly disagree with both assessments. They believe in government power that cannot be checked by the press, at least under this administration. The government can act in total secrecy, and journalists ought to be imprisoned if they disclose information which the President decrees should be kept secret.

Why does the "patriotic" right hate the founding principles of America so much?

Rush’s Drug Problems Continue, And People Like Me Giggle Like Schoolchildren

Schaudenfraude:

A Customs inspector going through the baggage of conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh on Monday afternoon found 29 small blue tablets — a supply of the impotence drug Viagra.

Trouble is, the name on the bottle wasn’t Limbaugh.

”Limbaugh said it was for his own personal use and that the name on it was his doctor’s,” said Sgt. Pete Palenzuela, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Possession of drugs prescribed to someone else is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Well, worse than being a class 2 misdemeanor, the possession could result in a revocation of the "deal" he worked out with prosecutors — a deal which ended up in a dismissal of prior charges against him.  If this story pans out to be true, Rush could be back in the doghouse and looking at reinstitution of all prior drug and doctor-shopping charges against him.

Firedoglake looks at the legal perspective in more depth:

Just so we are clear, in every jurisdiction that I know of, getting your drug prescriptions in someone else’s name is not legal.

That goes double when you are on probation supervision: in order to accurately assess the urine samples, probation officers have to have on file a copy of every prescription — drug name, dosage, frequency, etc. — to send to the company that does the chemistry profiles and testing on the urine screen. If the person under supervision tries to circumvent that process by getting prescriptions in someone else’s name, well that doesn’t provide adequate information for purposes of assessment — and it’s a violation of the supervision requirements, let alone a whole new set of legal violations.  (Unless, of course, Rush informed the probation office that he intended to break the law by having prescriptions written in someone else’s name.  Which would be highly unlikely…)

According to attorney Roy Black, a doctor had prescribed the Viagra, but it was "labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes."

Guess that plan didn’t work out too well.  In any event, it’s an odd excuse.  Prescriptions aren’t public information anyway.  Well, NOW it is.

Rush’s doctor(s) are also in some doo-doo.  You simply can’t write a presecription in someone else’s name.

Rush, by the way, was stopped at the airport upon a return trip from the Dominican Republic [raise eyebrows].

UPDATE:  From Jesus’ General:

Bonerad

And let’s step into the way-back machine, and take in some quotes from Rushbo himself, on the subject of drugs:

These tough sentencing laws were instituted for a reason. The American people, including liberals, demanded them. Don’t you remember the crack cocaine epidemic? Crack babies and out-of-control murder rates? Liberal judges giving the bad guys slaps on the wrist? Finally we got tough, and the crime rate has been falling ever since, so what’s wrong? —RushLimbaugh.com (8/18/03)

When you strip it all away, Jerry Garcia destroyed his life on drugs. And yet he’s being honored, like some godlike figure. Our priorities are out of whack, folks. —Rush Limbaugh radio show (quoted in the L.A. Times, 8/20/95)

What he’s saying is that if there’s a line of cocaine here, I have to make the choice to go down and sniff it….And his point is that we are rationalizing all this irresponsibility and all the choices people are making and we’re blaming not them, but society for it. All these Hollywood celebrities say the reason they’re weird and bizarre is because they were abused by their parents. So we’re going to pay for that kind of rehab, too, and we shouldn’t. It’s not our responsibility. It’s up to the people who are doing it.–Rush Limbaugh TV show (9/23/93)

I’m appalled at people who simply want to look at all this abhorrent behavior and say, "Hey, you know, we can’t control it anymore. People are going to do drugs anyway. Let’s legalize it." It’s a dumb idea. It’s a rotten idea, and those who are for it are purely, 100 percent selfish.–Rush Limbaugh TV show (12/9/93)

The Homosexual Agenda

You hear a lot of talk/complaints about "the homosexual agenda", but what exactly is it?

Pam Spaulding of Pandagon was cleaning up around her home, and she came across a piece of paper (well, several, actually) which outlines the homosexual agenda:

6:00 am Gym

8:00 am Breakfast

9:00 am Hair appointment

10:00 am Shopping

12:00 PM Brunch

2:00 PM (Here’s the really important part)

1) Assume complete control of the US Federal, State and local Governments as well as all other national governments
2) Recruit all straight youngsters to our debauched lifestyle
3) Destroy all healthy heterosexual marriages
4) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents of Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels
5) Establish planetary chain of “homo breeding gulags” where over -medicated imprisoned straight women are turned into artificially impregnated baby factories to produce prepubescent love slaves for our devotedly pederastic gay leadership
6) Bulldoze all houses of worship
7) Secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media for the exclusive use of child pornographers.

2:30 PM Get Forty Winks of Beauty Rest to prevent facial wrinkles from stress of world conquest

4:00 PM Cocktails

6:00 PM Light Dinner

8:00 PM Theater

11:00 PM Bed

Snow’s Snow

Let’s see.  The Democrats are calling for a plan to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year, or soon thereafter.  Our commander in Iraq has put forth a plan for just that thing.

The GOP has villified Democrats’ plan as displaying "cut and run" cowardice, being reckless and unworkable and blah blah blah.  But how is any different than the plan proposed by our top commander in Iraq?  This question was put to WH Press Secretary Tony Snow, who responded:

"Well, actually, he has one, and it — you know, again, this is not, I believe the way, at least it was reported, is you’ve got two brigades by the end of the year, September being short of the end of the year. But I may be misreading it. In any event, you’ve got to keep in mind that this is not a statement of policy. Again, Gen. Casey keeps in mind a number of scenarios. You’re talking about scenarios here … And so I would caution very strongly against everybody thinking, well, they’re going to pull two brigades out. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. That really does depend upon a whole series of things that we cannot, at this juncture, predict. But Gen. Casey — again, I would characterize this more in terms of scenario building, and we’ll see how it proceeds."

Ah, thanks for clearing that up.

“The Vice President”

Nice little exchange in a Congressional hearing yesterday.  The topic was the manipulation of pre-war Iraq intelligence.  Rep. Walter Jones (a NC Republican who voted for the war, and later regretted it) was talking to Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff:

JONES: My question is this to all four of you who would like to answer, maybe it’s a very simple question. I apologize if it’s been asked before. But what perplexes me is how in the world could professionals – I’m not criticizing anybody here at this table – but how could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?

I’m not saying you did not do your duty, please understand. My point is as a congressman who trusted what I was being told – I’m was not on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dorgan, but I am on the Armed Services Committee – and I was being told this information. And I wish I’d the wisdom then that I might have now. I would have known what to ask. But I think many of my colleagues – they did not have the experience on the Intelligence Committee – we just pretty much accepted.

So where along the way – how did these people so early on get so much power that they had more influence in those in the administration to make decisions than you the professionals.

WILKERSON: Let me try to answer you first. Let me say right off the bat I’m glad to see you here.

JONES: Thank you sir.

WILKERSON: As a Republican, I’m somewhat embarrassed by the fact that you’re the only member of my party here.

JONES: I agree.

WILKERSON: But I understand it. I’d answer you with two words. Let me put the article in there and make it three. The Vice President.

Watch it.

Once Again, Science Tells Us Something We Already Know

‘Senior Moments’ May Be Alzheimer’s:

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) — A study found that in a disturbing number of cases, embarrassing "senior moments" such as forgetting a recent conversation or drawing a blank on someone’s name may really be a sign of Alzheimer’s after all.

Chicago scientists reached that conclusion after autopsies on the brains of 134 older people who had appeared to be mentally normal, apart from some subtle forgetfulness.

Occasional forgetfulness is often written off as a normal part of growing old and nothing to get alarmed about. And in most cases, that is probably true.

But the scientists found to their surprise that the brains of more than one-third of the participants were riddled with waxy protein clumps and other signs of degeneration that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study "questions the acceptability of minor episodic memory loss in older adults as normal," said Dr. Carol Lippa, director of the memory disorders program at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She had no part in the study.

I was going to say something about this, but I forgot what it was.

Everybody’s For “Cutting And Running”

It seems that if any anti-war person suggest that we get out of Iraq, they are labelled as "cut and run" cowards.

Sadly, it’s not just those on the left who U.S. troops to start moving out of Iraq:

A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq. Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked U.S. and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations …they’re also key clauses of a national reconciliation plan drafted by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who will unveil it Sunday.

What’s more:

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

So who exactly is against withdrawal?  Seems like a small army of armchair warriors — not anybody intimately involved in the hostilities in Iraq.

I’m sorry, but when the Iraqi government and the top U.S. commander in Iraq are talking about troop withdrawal, you simply can’t label people who agree with them as "cut and run" cowards.

The Talent Show comments:

Interesting corner you’ve painted yourself into President Bush. If you go along with the plan, you’re essentially agreeing with the Democrats in regards to withdrawal. If you disagree, then all of your talk about Iraqi sovereignty was bullshit. After all, this is what the White House Spokesman said just one month ago :

Q [D]oes the fact that there is now a unity government change Maliki’s ability to say — to tell us, or ask us to leave?

MR. SNOW: We’ve been very clear, when the Iraqi government — we serve there at the pleasure of the Iraqi government. You know, if he says he doesn’t need us, we’re not going to stick around.

Kevin Drum adds:

Did you get that? No one disagrees with the concept of a broad, conditions-based timetable.

President Bush would be flatly insane to turn this opportunity down. It’s precisely the kind of request he needs in order to declare victory, assure everyone that the job is close to done, and make it clear that he respects Iraqi sovereignty and doesn’t plan to occupy their country forever. There would be no loss of face and no loss of national honor.

Conversely, if he resists it, it would be hard not to conclude that he was doing so solely because a "broad, conditions-based timetable" also happens to be exactly the position of the vast majority of the Democratic Party — and he would rather chew off his own big toe than do anything that might turn down the volume on the domestic partisan jihad that’s been so politically successful for Republicans ever since 9/11. I guess we’ll find out soon.

Indifference To The Truth

What Matt says:

Another report on pre-war WMD intelligence stuff. The basic picture I think we get from all of this is that the administration’s rhetoric certainly wasn’t a matter of "mistakes" or "bad intelligence" and probably wasn’t primarily the product of lies either. One reason some of us were so credulous about what they said before the war is that it just wouldn’t make sense to deliberately lie under circumstances where you were bound to get caught. What certainly I didn’t really consider when evaluating what was being said was the possibility — that now clearly seems to be the case — that they were just operating with a near-perfect indifference to the truth.

They "knew" what they wanted to know and the point of the intelligence community at that point wasn’t to uncover the truth but simply to provide the evidence necessary to reach the conclusion.

I said the very same thing to someone this weekend.

SCOTUS News

Lot of things coming from the Supreme Court today.  I’ll combine it all here:

(1)  In Hudson v. Michigan, a recent controversial decision involving the "knock & announce" tactics of police raids, Scalia apparently "twisted the words" of an eminent criminolgist to reach his conclusion.  The criminiologist complains here.

(2)  SCOTUS announced today that it will hear a case about combat global warming, setting up what could be one of the court ‘s most important decisions on the environment.  More here:

[Environmental groups] argue that the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to limit carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles under the federal Clean Air Act because as the primary "greenhouse" gas causing a warming of the earth, carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

The administration maintains that carbon dioxide — unlike other chemicals that must be controlled to assure healthy air — is not a pollutant under the federal clean air law, and that even if it were the EPA has discretion over whether to regulate it.

A federal appeals court sided with the administration in a sharply divided ruling.

One judge said the EPA’s refusal to regulate carbon dioxide was contrary to the clean air law; another said that even if the Clean Air Act gave the EPA authority over the heat-trapping chemical, the agency could choose not to use that authority; a third judge ruled against the suit because, he said, the plaintiffs had no standing because they hadn’t proven harm.

It seems that SCOTUS will not be called on to determine whether or not CO2 or other greenhouses gases cause global warming, but instead, to determine with the Clean Air Act (or other laws) mandate that the EPA get involved in regulating it.

The Clean Air Act (at Section 302(g)) gives the EPA power to regulate "air pollutants", defined as "any air pollution agent or combinations of such agents, including any physical, chemical, biological, radioactive …substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambiant air".

That’s a pretty broad definition, and I fail to see how it could not include CO2.

(3)  The Supreme Court had an opportunity to revisit Buckley v. Valeo, the atrocious 1976 case about political campaign contributions which stated (in so many words) that "money is speech" and therefore protected by the First Amendment.  Unfortunately, Buckley is still good law after the case announced today.  SCOTUS (in a 6-3 decision) addressed a law in the State of Vermont which attempted to address campaign financing, striking down the law as unconstitutional (PDF).

(4) SCOTUS ruled today that the death penalty statute in Kansas doesn’t violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  It was a close 5-4 decision, with Alito casting the swing vote.

(5) No decisions today on Hamden (dealing with Gitmo "enemy combatents") or the Texas redistricting case (where precinct lines were redrawn to give Republicans a leg-up).

Can’t Believe This Guy Is A Law Professor

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, on the issue of the New York Times leaking news that the government is monitoring bank transactions:

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn’t give freedom to the press. [NYT Editor] Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It’s the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.

I think it is Reynolds who puts the media in some lofty position, not the NYT.  He seems to overlook the obvious: the media is the people.  Who actually runs the New York Times?  Who writes the stories?  Who owns the stock?  People.  A publishing entity doesn’t lose its constitutional "freedom of the press" protection simply because it is large, well-organized and successful (like the New York Times).

The Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) proclaimed that "the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments." Similarly, the Constitution of Massachusetts (1780) declared, "The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth."  This notion was carried into the Constitution by the founding fathers.  The New York Times may have printed something which exposed (yet another) dirty deed of the Bush Administration.  While it is probably an embarassment, it is precisely the safeguard that the framers envisioned.  As Thomas Jefferson preached, a government which cannot stand up to criticism and exposure deserves to fall.

The Power Of The Blogosphere

I hate — really hate — the self-congratulatory aspect of the political blogosphere, where bloggers hoist themselves on their own petard thinking that, collectively, they can change the course of politics and, by extension, America.

But Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the proprietor of the most popular liberal blog Daily Kos, seems to really be making a difference, and has set himself up as a key player in shaping the state of the Democratic party.  As this article suggests, it may not be a good thing.

What’s that saying about power and corruption?

Nutcase In Charlotte

Lunatic David Thompson complains to Charlotte, NC city council during a community access forum, which is conveniently captured on tape and broadcast live on the local community access channel. Enjoy his rant against ice in the arena, rogue helicopter pilots, and "terrorist pussies".

MySpace: A Love Story

Much ink has been spilled about MySpace, and how it is replete with sexual predators.  While that is a problem, the oft-cited statistic that one-in-five teens are subjected to "sexual solicitation" on MySpace is a lot of hype.

On the other hand, this is pretty weird:

A 16-year-old honor student from Michigan tricked her parents into getting her a passport and then flew off to the Mideast to be with a West Bank man she met on MySpace.com, authorities say.

U.S. officials in Jordan persuaded her to turn around and go home before she reached the West Bank. She was on her way home Friday.

Katherine R. Lester is a straight-A student and student council member, her father said. "She’s a good girl. Never had a problem with her," Terry Lester said.

MySpace.com is a social networking Web site with more 72 million members that lets users post photos, blogs and journals. There have been scattered accounts of sexual predators targeting minors they met through the site.

Katherine disappeared Monday after talking her family into getting her a passport by saying she was going to Canada with friends, sheriff’s officials said. She apparently planned to visit a man whose MySpace account describes him as a 25-year-old from Jericho, Undersheriff James Jashinske said.

That’s pretty ookey.

And she insists that it’s love. 

"I’m definitely going to marry him," the Gilford teen told Good Morning America co-anchor Kate Snow, adding: "I don’t plan on going over there. I plan on him coming here."

The 25 year old man insists it’s love, too:

"When I realized she wasn’t coming, I felt my whole world collapse," he said. "My tears didn’t stop and I couldn’t sleep for three days."

Boo-hoo.

Now comes the freaky part:

Like the rest of the world, Lester’s father assumed she had been duped by some sex-starved freak. He was ready to lock her in the basement for a few years. Now he can see it’s the real thing.

The real thing????  She’s sixteen, you moron!!

Blame MySpace?  No way.  Blame bad parenting.

Fighting Terrorists In Iraq So We Won’t Have To Fight Them Here?

Of the seven al Qaeda terrorists arrested in an alleged plot against the Sears Tower, five were U.S. citizens.  While they are purportedly Muslim (except for the one Roman Catholic), it appears that none of them were of Arabic descent.

Quick, let’s invade America!

RELATED:  Larry Johnson reminds us that the government has claimed to capture domestic Al Qaeda members, only to have it revealed (months later, in the back pages of the newspapers) that they were entirely innocent.  Others say not to believe the hype.

UPDATE:  Steve Soto:

I’m sorry, but while Alberto tells us how important it is for the FBI to have broken up a ring of “homegrown terrorists” this morning, why do I have the impression that what the Bureau did was bag a bunch of stupid gang-bangers, meth-runners, and Bin Laden wannabes rather than stumble upon a domestic Al Qaeda cell? If this really was Al Qaeda, does the alleged ringleader ask someone he barely knows for money to go buy “boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, and vehicles,” as well as $50,000 in cash, to help him build an “Islamic Army to wage jihad?” Yeah, in Hollywood and in the rightwing blogosphere perhaps.

Fashion Police

It’s stories like this that make me wonder what this country was coming to.

Lydia Smith, age 10, was spending a summer day shopping with her mother at Battlefield Mall in Springfield, Missouri.  They were enjoying lunch in the food court when Lydia was approached by a mall security officer, who told her that she needed to remove her bandanna.

Why?  Because Lydia’s bandanna violated the mall’s code of conduct:

Lydia had violated No. 10 on the list of 17 offenses: "failing to be fully clothed or wearing apparel which is likely to provide a disturbance or embroil other groups or the general public in open conflict."

What was on Lydia’s bandanna that was likely to enrage other mall-goers into a frenzy of conflict?

Peace signs, smiley faces and flowers…

[Insert sound of my jaw hitting the floor]

"The bottom line is we want to have an environment (conducive) to shopping. Offensive apparel does not fit in with that environment," [a mall spokewoman] said…

The article, in full here, notes that the spokeswoman couldn’t explain what was "offensive" about peace signs, smiley faces, and flowers….Hippybandana

This photo may not be suitable for people under the age of 21.

First Amendment Primer

Dear AgapePress:

This is very simple.  Try to wrap your pea-brains around it.

When a school prevents a student from talking about God, that is a violation of the student’s First Amendment rights.  However, when the school provides the microphone for the student to speak about God, that too is a violation of the First Amendment.

In other words, public schools cannot silence nor promote the expression of religion.

Got it?

Are You Alone? Well, You’re Not Alone.

Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says:

The Number of People Who Say They Have No One to Confide In Has Risen

Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties — once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits — are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

"That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car," said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct the study. "There really is less of a safety net of close friends and confidants."

If close social relationships support people in the same way that beams hold up buildings, more and more Americans appear to be dependent on a single beam.

Compared with 1985, nearly 50 percent more people in 2004 reported that their spouse is the only person they can confide in. But if people face trouble in that relationship, or if a spouse falls sick, that means these people have no one to turn to for help, Smith-Lovin said.

"We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times," she said. "We’re not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on Facebook.com [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important."

The new research is based on a high-quality random survey of nearly 1,500 Americans. Telephone surveys miss people who are not home, but the General Social Survey, funded by the National Science Foundation, has a high response rate and conducts detailed face-to-face interviews, in which respondents are pressed to confirm they mean what they say.

Whereas nearly three-quarters of people in 1985 reported they had a friend in whom they could confide, only half in 2004 said they could count on such support. The number of people who said they counted a neighbor as a confidant dropped by more than half, from about 19 percent to about 8 percent.

The results, being published today in the American Sociological Review, took researchers by surprise because they had not expected to see such a steep decline in close social ties.

I’m not surprised by these results, although it is troubling to see the "steep decline".

Babel Babble

Let’s see — what’s up with the usual gaggle of wingnuts today?  Nathan Tabor is writing non-sensical (and therefore mock-proof) columns, apparently giving the old college try at this thing called "humor". 

Marie0623Since we want no part of that, we turn our attention to Marie Jon Apostrophe, since she’s undoubtedly going to send her latest column to me by email anyway.

Marie’s target is — hold on to your hats — Democrats, in a piece entitled "Democrats are ‘speaking babel about Iraq’".  You see, she’s making a biblical reference.

Genesis 11:1: "Now the whole world had one language and a common speech." Yes, God created people who spoke one language.

Damn stright.  And that language, Marie will tell you, was English.

However, it was because of their disobedience that God confounded a people’s speech. [citation omitted].

The disobedient people wanted to communicate their thoughts to others and have them think as they did. God, in His wisdom, in order to hinder the spread of evil, confused them with different languages. There lie the geneses of the Babel.

"Genesis"?  "Genius"?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Apparently, God confounded Marie Jon with a unique language all of her own.

This week the Democrats are debating in Congress plans to pull out of a fledgling country that still needs our armed forcers to protect them.

A "fledging country" that is, literally, the cradle of civilization.

If Iraq is not protected, innocent people will be murdered by the hand of wicked terrorists.

This, of course, is the natural response to 9/11 — protect people in a faraway country from the terrorists’ "hand" — terrorists that didn’t exist there before we invaded that country.

The Iraqi people continue to bulk up their own armed forces. The people and their newly formed government are taking on the responsibilities for their own country. To date, Iraq has more than 50,000 Interior Ministry forces.

And since the Iraqi people are doing so well taking on their own responsibilities, then the talk of U.S. withdrawel from Iraq is stupid.  Um.  Or something.

With all said and done, have you ever wondered what Democrats are truly saying concerning Iraq? How do they reach these bad conclusions? Their plans do not take in mind the safety of the vulnerable people who live in Iraq.

Or maybe Democrats take in mind that our presence there only makes the problem worse.

In some respects, it is unfortunate that we allow people to vote in this country who have discombobulated thought patterns.

Yeah.  Democracy sucks.

Why does Marie Jon Apostrophe hate America?

It is really frightening when they are members of our legislature. Are you not amazed at their unwillingness to embrace the facts and statistics that are afforded them by the president? [Bush citation omitted]

Right on, Marie.  Why can’t people just accept everything Bush says at face value?  What’s wrong with them?

The Iraqi government has made it very clear that they do not want to be left alone until they are able to protect themselves from the outside insurgents who have been attacking them since the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein.

From a 2004 poll: "But while they acknowledge benefits from dumping Saddam a year ago, Iraqis no longer see the presence of the American-led military as a plus. Asked whether they view the U.S.-led coalition as ‘liberators’ or ‘occupiers,’ 71% of all respondents say ‘occupiers.’"

It is unfortunate that we allow people to write nationally-syndicated columns in this country who have discombobulated thought patterns.

The al-Qaeda wants desperately to squelch the freedoms that Iraqis possess.

The freedom to go from place to place dodging car bombs, the freedom to have little electricity and water of questionable cleanliness….

The terrorists want Iraq to fail and come under the sway of radical extremism.

A radical extremism that didn’t exist before we went in there — you keep forgetting that, Marie.

President Bush communicates clearly with the opposition party…

Ah, Bush.  The great communicator.

…yet they willfully twist and turn every which way, so that facts and truth appear to elude them. How can one seriously have a meaningful debate with double minded Democrats?

Marie, if it’s a debate you want, then say so.  But you want is for Democrats to "embrace the facts and statistics that are afforded them by the president", which is not — by any stretch — a "debate".

Americans are beginning to understand the truth about the left.

Which is why almost 70% of them agree with "the left" about the folly of the Iraq War.

The Democrats simply are disingenuous about the Iraqi people. The left have learned the ways of Babel, and they know how to speak it.

Yeah, but apparently our "Babel" has noun-verb agreement.

Their worldly followers (constituents) wanders after them only because "they wish to be deceived."

Yup.  At least we got that noun-verb thing going for us.

No wonder columnist, author and speaker Ann Coulter calls liberals Godless and treasonous in her books. Politics are their religion, and they generally speak Babel.

We bought a tape from Berlitz.

A cut and run out of Iraq policy is what the Democrats offer as their answer to a very complicated and serious task that still lies ahead concerning the war on terror.

How often must a Republican president explain to the Democrats that we have to complete the job? Our exit strategy is when the mission is completed. The job is completed when Iraq is able to stand on her own two feet and protect herself. That day is coming.

Baby doll, that’s not a strategy.  That’s a goal.  A "strategy" entails how to reach that goal.

That’s like saying "My strategy to end world hunger is to make sure everyone has enough food to eat."  Okay, fine.  But HOW do you actually acheive that?  THAT’S a stategy, Marie.

There’s no plan to win this "war".  The only "plan" is simply trusting the very same administration that ran blindly into Iraq in the first place, not even thinking about the sectarian violence.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda cells (if one is to believe today’s news) are springing up here . . . in Miami.

Staying in Iraq only demonstrates a support for the goal of a peaceful Iraq (a goal on which everybody can agree), but staying in Iraq doesn’t move the ball toward that actual goal.  It’s one thing to ask U.S. men and women to risk their lives for some achievable ideal; it’s another to continue to ask them to do it for an admirable principle.

The president of these United States has put forth our policies cornering Iraq.

Cornering?

This continual needless debate undermines our troops fighting in Iraq.

So, now you don’t want a debate?  Make up your mind.

It also emboldens the terrorist listening to an ornery party within this country, meddling were they have no business doing so.

We have h’s in our language of Babel.

That said, I’m not sure what Marie is suggesting.  Are the terrorists "meddling were [sic] they have no business doing so"?  Or is the Democratic ("ornery") party meddling where it has no business doing so?  If it’s the latter, I have a news flash for Marie — Congress regulates the armed forces (it’s in the Constitution), and Democrats make up some of Congress.

Many American citizens will place the recent murders of the two U. S. Marines that took place in Iraq at the feet of those who are politicizing the war. [citation, which doesn’t support Marie’s statement, omitted]

Marie, you don’t look blonde, so don’t act that way.  Name one war in the entire history of mankind, that didn’t have "politics" associated with it.

Mario Vasquez, was upset that the family had to learn so many gruesome details of his nephew’s death through the media." The media jumped ahead and did not allow the family the dignity of being told through proper military channels.

Except that Vasquez was (rightfully) angry at the military for being slow to inform them, not the media.

Two of America’s finest men serving in Iraq were unmercifully butchered to death by al-Qaeda, as an uncalled for and unwanted debate was underway.

And as everyone knows, if the Democrats would just support Bush and the Iraq War, those two men wouldn’t have been butchered to death at all.  Is that what you’re saying?

It is time that Rep. John Murtha and Senators John Kerry and Russ Feingold silence their egregious mouths of Babel. They are doing this country and our troops a great disservice.

But according to you, the "mouths of Babel" is what God ordained.  Are you suggesting they defy God?

There is no debate about Iraq in the halls of Baghdad.

Of course not.  The elected representatives are afraid to get into their cars in order to meet within the halls.

They have their freedom and they have the will to keep it.

Which is why we have to disrepect Iraq as a sovereign nation.  Or something.

UPDATE:  Republican Donald Trump has apparently learned to speak the Babel of the Democrats:

“I think the war was a mistake,” said the star of NBC’s The Apprentice. “I would get out of Iraq as soon as possible consistent with the practicalities of a bad situation. … It’s being held together by sugar candy. No matter what happens, I believe Iraq will fall again.”

Speaking of WMD…

Sen. Rick Santorum says we found them.

The Department of Defense responds to Santorum’s evidence: "You’re wrong, Rick, and everybody who has looked at your ‘evidence’ in the past thinks it’s horseshit." (rough paraphrase)

Actually, it appears that the "found" WMD was 500 shells of degraded mustard or sarin nerve agents.  That’s right: they were degraded and ineffective. Had they been deployed by Saddam, they wouldn’t have worked. 

Furthermore, it looks like the shells were not even manufactured by Saddam post-Gulf War, but were merely left over from sometime in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.  As such, they hardly provide support for the war rationalization that Saddam was continuing a program of manufacturing WMD.

Tbogg snarks:

It’s official: Rick Santorum is in his last throes…

Oh, That Liberal Media…

From The Corner:

[T]he Big Three networks just aired three and a half hours of morning and evening news coverage in just three weeks of the Haditha “Marine massacre” allegations.   But they have next to no interest in digging through the Saddam archives, just as they had next to no interest in digging through Soviet archives or East German archives. Everyone should realize that the major media has a bad case of partisan tunnel vision, and not be intimidated out of building a historical record for future generations to understand.

Wait a second.  Even the Bush Administration now concedes there were no WMD.   Why should the media be digging through the Saddam archives to find evidence of a position held by virtually nobody in the military and intelligence community (who already looked through this stuff)?  And why is it "partisan" for the media to devote its attention to, you know, current events?

The Strange Crash Of Gary Dodds

You need to read this story to believe it.

Although, nobody’s sure what to believe.

It involves NH congressional candidate Gary Dodds, a Democrat, who disappeared for 27 hours in April.  His car was found in a crash with a guardrail, and Dodds himself was found a mile away a day later.  His "story" of what happened, where he was going, etc. doesn’t hold together, and the police are openly suspicious.

Bush Defaces American Flag

Here’s what the US Code says:

TITLE 4 > CHAPTER 1 > § 8

§ 8. Respect for flag

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

Here’s a picture of Bush today, in Vienna Austria Livonia, Michigan:

Bushflag

Facts Don’t Lie

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, speculating on why the Iraq War is so unpopular:

The president understands people’s impatience — not impatience but how a war can wear on a nation. He understands that. If somebody had taken a poll in the Battle of the Bulge, I dare say people would have said, wow, my goodness, what are we doing here?

Sadly, Tony, FDR had polls taken during the course of WWII, and you would be totally wrong.  At the time of the Battle of the Bulge, Americans clearly understood what the war was about, and early supported it — it remained in the 70% range through out the entire war, trending upward during the Battle of the Bulge.

The chart shows that American people will stick through a lot of adversity if they think the war being fought matters.  The reason the Iraq War is unpopular is precisely because few grasp what its purpose is, and most object to the haphazard way in which it is being waged.  Tony — stop blaming the American people for their impatience and start blaming your President for his incompetence.

The $100 Hamburger

100_burger_fljc102

This resort restaurant in Florida now serves a $100 hamburger (pictured above).  You can read about it here, but I’ll spare you the trouble.

It’s $100 because it weighs 20 ounces, and is 5 1/2 inches across and 2 1/2 inches thick.  It is made from the finest beef from three continents — American prime beef, Japanese Kobe and Argentine cattle.  It’s garnished with organic greens, exotic mushrooms and tomatoes.

And that’s why it’s $100.