Archive for June, 2008
One downside to being citizens of a nation that claims the mantle of leader of the free world is that — every now and then, at least — you have to put up or shut up. You actually have to act the part.
The United States Supreme Court did just that last week, be it by a depressingly close 5-to-4 vote, when it handed down its decision in Boumediene v. Bush.
The ruling is actually far from remarkable, and can be summed up by two familiar words — due process. Yup, it’s that simple. The US government has been holding prisoners — or “detainees” as they prefer calling them — for years, without trial or even charge (with a little torture thrown in from time to time).
Now, at long last, these people get to be heard. They get to go into a court and force the government to provide some sort of reasonable explanation for why they are being held. That’s it. That’s all the Supreme Court’s decision requires. No one’s been released. Terrorists aren’t streaming out of jail cells. Just the good old fashioned American right to have your day in court.
So when exactly did that become controversial?
But controversial plainly it is: and oh how the politically motivated outrage has been flowing. For a full five days now, it’s been pouring out as fast as shit from a busted septic tank. And it stinks just as badly.
Here’s a taste;
“The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”
– Antonin Scalia
“The United States Supreme Court rendered a decision yesterday that I think is one of the worst decisions in history.”
– John McCain
“This is not judicial activism. It is judicial tyranny.”
– Tom DeLay
“It was a deeply divided court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented. And that dissent was based upon their serious concerns about US national security.”
– George W. Bush
These comments will, no doubt, prove a harbinger of things to come. Initial polling indicates that a clear majority of Americans (61% to 34%) oppose the Supreme Court’s decision. Given that Barack Obama has spoken out strongly in favor of the Court’s ruling, we can expect an avalanche of GOP attacks against him on this issue. You know: ”Vote for Obama and die.” Subtle stuff like that.
Here’s my advice to Obama: don’t give an inch. The fact that 61% of Americans, on first blush, may disagree with the Court’s holding doesn’t mean those numbers must necessarily hold. The public’s thinking can evolve: sometimes — whether the Beltway punditry believes it or not — it’s possible for a political leader to change ill-advised public opinion, instead of just pandering to it.
I wonder, for example, how many of these poll respondents were aware of the recent McClatchy report establishing that a substantial percentage of the detainees at Guantanamo were wrongfully held, not to mention the follow-up reporting showing that many of those wrongfully detained have since been successfully recruited by militants.
Besides, pandering has a limited shelf life. Americans have already watched, with increasing disgust, as a mythical “high principled maverick” by the name of John McCain has repeatedly shown his true colors. Who knows? They may just be ready to embrace the real thing.
Stand tall on this one, Barack. Speak the truth. It’s not only the right thing to do on an issue this central to our freedom, in the end, it’s probably your best defense anyway; after all, there’s no way you could ever out lie or out pander these folks even if, God forbid, you wanted to try.
Sometimes when I’m not wasting time (when I should be working) writing blog posts, I waste time (when I should be working) playing freecell on my computer. But after having played — oh, thirty or forty thousand games give or take over the years — I’ve lost patience. So, instead of thinking about what card to play, I often move very quickly, giving myself only a second or two between each play. I’ve jokingly named the process extreme freecell.
I lose a lot, but win surprisingly often.
So, does anyone else out there play extreme freecell?
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually believe the Texas GOP on this one. Even they wouldn’t be this stupid. Would they?
As a result of upgrades needed to (hopefully) fix our little meltdown, everyone, myself included, was logged off the system. You should be able to log back on, but if you have a problem drop me a line (my email address is on the contact page and at the end of all of the episodes).
Thanks for your patience — assuming, of course, you’ve shown any.
In theory, Freedom of Speech belongs to everyone equally: a minimum wage cook at Denny’s has every bit as much right to the public mike as Rupert Murdoch. Reality, of course, tends to be something different.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or an anti-globalization protester to recognize that the power of corporate money — make that the overwhelming power of corporate money — in the America of today extends to the field of news and commentary. Corporate America not only owns the major news media lock, stock and barrel — it is also feeling increasingly free to use that ownership to control what news and commentary flows to the public — even in broadcasts traveling over the public airways.
Especially when it comes to economic issues, only one viewpoint is generally heard today — the voice of the “greed is good” set. True, the rest of us have the constitutional right to scream into the wind: we just don’t get to be heard.
There has been one small sliver of good news — something that stands at least a ghost of a chance of returning a little diversity to the democratic conversation — and that, of course, is the growing political power of the Internet.
And don’t think that the media powers that be haven’t noticed.
The US news agency Associated Press has found itself at the centre of a furious debate over the fair use of material by bloggers after its lawyers issued a takedown notice to a small, independent news site that it claims had quoted too heavily from its news stories.
AP said six instances of copyright violation have taken place on Drudge Retort – a leftwing comment site set up as an alternative to the Drudge Report – including one post that pasted 18 words from a story on Hillary Clinton followed by a 32-word direct quote.
A letter from the AP intellectual property governance coordinator, Irene Keselman, to the site on June 3 said that contrary to the site’s assertion, “AP considers that the Drudge Retort users’ use of AP content does not fall within the parameters of fair use”.
Make no mistake: what AP is trying to do here is to drive a dagger into the heart of the blogosphere. If its position is upheld, quoting even a paragraph or two from an AP story will constitute a violation of copyright laws. In other words, virtually every blogger in the world will be a lawbreaker.
Up to this point, it has always been assumed that the use of brief quotations constitutes “fair use” under copyright laws. Since I don’t practice law in this field, I can’t say who’s right legally, but economically AP’s decision to push this issue makes little sense to me: I mean, blog links drive traffic to AP articles. Isn’t that a good thing?
Thank God. The Supreme Court, by a five-to-four vote, has upheld the Constitution of the United States as against Bush Administration infringements in regard to the detainees at Guantanamo.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.
In its third rebuke of the Bush administration’s treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court’s liberal justices were in the majority.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”
So in some respects, at least, this is still America — still a land governed by laws and not men. But if that’s true, then it’s a truth that’s hanging by the thinnest thread imaginable. Just one more Bush style Supreme Court appointment — one more Alito or Roberts (the precise sorts of people McCain has pledged to nominate to the Court if he’s elected) — and we will become something else altogether.
I wonder, has there ever been a more important election in American history?
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This time John McCain’s just gone too far! He can keep us in Iraq, screw-up the environment even more than it already is and appoint right wing hacks to the Supreme Court. But when he starts fu*king with happy hour that’s one thing I won’t stand for!