Book 'Em, Holder

It’s Farthammer Friday, everybody!

Today, Charles discusses the handling of attempted underpants bomber Umar Farouk Hubbadubbadingdong and the pending trial of Khalil Sheikh Mohammed. He is annoyed that the underpants bomber was eventually Mirandized and is of course frothing at the mouth at the notion of trying Mohammed in a criminal court.

I think that Charles Farthammer and the other hysterical conservagoats who can’t fathom why such by-the-book measures are necessary need to start a ginko biloba regimen. They’ve forgotten so much.

Let’s remember, for instance, the case of José Padilla. Shall we?

Padilla was an American citizen arrested on May 8, 2002 in Chicago. On June 9, 2002—two days before a district court judge was to issue a ruling on the validity of continuing to hold him—Gorge Dubya Busch ordered Donnie Rumsfeld to declare him an “enemy combatant” and he was sent to a South Carolina brig without any notice to his family or to his attorney. After 3.5 years of court decisions, many of which were decided on technicalities, Padilla was suddenly indicted in civil court—likely to avoid a pending decision on his case by SCROTUS. Padilla was charged on three criminal counts, two of them, including a terrorism charge were thrown out. Padilla was charged with “conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim” and sentenced to 17 years.

Should we…remember the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi?

Hamdi, born in Baton Rouge in 1980, was captured in Konduz, Afghanistan, in November 2001, said to be fighting alongside the Taliban. He was sent to a prison near Mazri Sharif, where there was a three-day prison riot and fighting. Hamdi surrendered and identified himself as an American citizen. He was denied legal counsel until December 2003. Hamdi’s father petitioned a federal court to charge Hamdi and to give him a trial. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court decided in Rumsfeld v. Hamdi that “the Executive Branch does not have the power to hold indefinitely a U.S. citizen without basic due process protections enforceable through judicial review.” This was a decision with eight out of nine justices on board.

Should we…remember Abu Ghraib?

One reason there’s a need to do things more “by the book” is because the previous administration insisted on flouting the law so egregiously, and that, as a result, justice was severely denied to some people. Again, Busch and his crazy Republigoat bruthas screwed it up, and now we gotta fix it. But, there is a more compelling case to be made for the American criminal system versus the kangaroo courts that are being argued for by Farthammer and his ilk.

Let’s look at the recent history of military tribunals and wonder to ourselves why in the wide wide world of sports do right-wang bobble-heads have such a raging hard-on for them, shall we?

In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (Donnie sure spent a lot of time in court, didn’t he?), the Supreme Court held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay lacked “the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949” and that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions had been violated. Dig?

However, the Court did say that Congressional approval could allow the commissions, and thus was passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni captured during the American incursion into Afghanistan, had all charges dropped in June 2007 on what sounds like a very odd technicality: He was only an enemy combatant, he wasn’t an “unlawful enemy combatant.” Then, in December, the same judge heard new arguments and determined that, oh yes, Hamdan WAS unlawful after all. On Aug. 7, 2008, Hamdan was sentenced to 66 months in prison, including time served. In November 2008, he was returned to Yemen.

Here’s an interesting contrast: “The American Taliban” versus “The Australian Taliban.”

John Walker Lindh, the Silver Spring, Md. native captured during the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi, was indicted by a federal grand jury on ten charges. Lindh, who could have received up to three life sentences and 90 additional years in prison, pled not guilty. But prosecutors had a problem: Lindh’s confession might not have been admissible because it was made under duress. So, get this:

To forestall this possibility, Michael Chertoff, then-head of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, directed the prosecutors to offer Lindh a plea bargain, to which, Lindh would plead guilty to two charges: — serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his 20-year sentence, and he would have to drop any claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. In return, all other charges would be dropped.

Despite the fact that the key piece of evidence in his trial was pooped upon because he was roughed up, Lindh is locked up in the slam, and it was the American criminal courts that threw the book at him.

David Hicks, the “Australian Taliban,” who was captured by a “Northern Alliance warlord” near Kunduz, Afghanistanin early December 2001 and turned over to US Special Forces for $1,000, was tried by a military tribunal.

He presently lives in Abbotsford, New South Wales with his new wife.

As we sit, Ali al-Bahlul, the only Gitmo detainee who has ever been convicted by military tribunal, is launching his appeal.

Meanwhile, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others convicted with him of plotting to bomb bridges, tunnels, and buildings in Manhattan and kidnap key political figures, rot in jail, thanks to sentences issued in federal court.

Justice in the hands of sloppy practitioners threatens justice in an immense fashion. It has led to the reality that American citizens have been whisked away and held without access to justice, and if Joey Padilla can be, my friends, there’s no reason why you can’t. Justice in the hands of sloppy practitioners led to the bizarre and cruel treatment of people in an Iraqi prison, which left an enormous brown stain on America’s ass and probably created thousands more Islamic extremists.

Moreover, tribunals have have not forged the justice that even the most wing-nuttiest nut-job froths at the mouth for. Justice—and even its uglier cousin, vengance—seem to get served up in bigger juicier scoops by the long-established criminal justice system rather than the toddler that is the military tribunal system. And every time a conservagoat asshole opens up his or her pie-hole about to defend tribunals over criminal courts, they’re actually defending an ineffectual system that has only produced ONE conviction and that has released at least several people thought to be dangerous terrorists back into the wild.

Why are the right-wang nutties so soft on terrorists?

Revelations from Big Love

You can’t make the bottom line about GLBT marriage any clearer than did Barbara, the fanatical Mormon mother in Big Love, when confronting her daughter who was about to get married at the courthouse. “It (the courthouse wedding) isn’t celestial,” Barbara exclaimed. “It’s not even in a church. It’s nothing. It’s just a contract with the government.”

Exactly so. There are church marriages and there are government marriages and that’s the way it should be. The problem, of course, is that some people with church marriages think they have rights superior to the rights of others… superior even to those of other churches that may embrace GLBT marriage. (Which begs the question, if the civil authority refuses to recognize a gay marriage conducted in a church that allows it as part of its liturgy, isn’t the civil authority violating the constitution? But I digress.) I am inspired by Barbara to offer a new structure for state law that clearly speaks truth to morons on the subject of GLBT marriage.

The law would first recognize the right of churches to define marriage for themselves without limitation by government. Churches could exclude anyone they want and include anyone they want. Churches could marry same sex couples if they so choose. They could exclude same sex couples. They could practice miscegenation. Some states might want to limit polygamy or polyandry, not that there is anything wrong with it, but the constitution appears to allow this significant infringement on religious freedom.

The law would then recognize marriages conducted by civil authorities between any persons without regard to sexual preference. State laws may also recognize polygamous and polyandrous marriages (which they would be doing if they allowed churches to recognize them). In either case the states would need to amend the divorce laws to provide methods for unwinding all or part of a multiple marriage.)

States may impose on either type of marriage the public health requirements they now impose, and protect children by imposing age restrictions. In the interest of efficiency, I recommend that the new statute eliminate the need for marriage licensing. Marriage certificates could instead be issued by the marrying authority, and produced when necessary by the married persons.

I know that all this is self evident to anyone who has a clear understanding of the correct relationship between church and state. The average moron, however, needs it spelled out.

In Other News: Fox 'News' Has A 'Brain Room'

As reported by Media Matters For America:

On Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum claimed that the “Fox News brain room” determined that President Obama’s statement that a recent Supreme Court ruling would “open the floodgates” for foreign corporations to spend in U.S. elections was “wrong,” adding that “the court specifically wrote that it was not overturning restrictions on foreign dollars.” In fact, four of the Supreme Court’s justices agreed in their opinion that the decision “would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans” to make certain election-related expenditures.

Not only that, but what Fox “News” reported doesn’t even make sense (surprised?).

Let’s just say that, indeed, the Supreme Court Republicans Of The United States (SCROTUS)* had written a specific banination of foreigners buying media in support of specific candidates during election seasons in the United States into the mind-numbingly stupid and shitty decision they made in Citizens United V. American Democracy.

How do you enforce it?

If Abu Dabu Du Inc., based in Saudi Arabia, has a subsidiary firm based in Scammon, Kan., called Elvis Smith and Sons Widgets and Pooper Scoopers Inc., what stops company A from putting a little money into company B to buy an ad on election eve claiming that Barack Obama dines regularly on puppy-tail soup?

The fact is, we won’t know for sure for a while if Citizens United V. American Democracy will open a loophole for foreign influence or not. But it is possibly one of the possible consequences. And flat-out denials of that won’t alter the reality of the matter.

* Thanks to Steph and the Mooks.

Up Yours, Supremes!

On January 27, 2010, a man threw his shoe at a Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Probably not what you’re thinking. The shoe-ee was Dorit Beinisch, Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court. Pinchas Cohen walked into a hearing where residents of a northern town were asking the court to shut down an authorized producer of medical marijuana and winged shoes at the man. The first shot beaned him; the second one missed as he fell to the ground.

So. It could have been worse.

Not by much, though. President Barack Obama didn’t do any shoe throwing. But he did look the nine United States Justices right in the eye and told them directly what he though of their piece-of-shit ruling in the Citizens United Vs. American Democracy decision.

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interestsWith all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

This was a rare public dress-down of the judiciary by the executive. It was the most stunning moment of last evening’s SOTU, made even moreso by the revelation that The Ali-Ton 3000 was mouthing a protest to the President’s accusations even as he made them. In that moment, people, the President of the United States was speaking for you in a way that was utterly. pure and democratic. It was, how you say, a teachable moment.

Nice Speech, Barack

I think I have not been commenting here much because I feel like I’m whistling into the wind. The Democratic Party has been hiding its head in shame since the Massachusetts election. The press has declared the Obama Administration a failure. I personally have not been as happy with the Obamanator as I would like. For a progressive, he has been disappointing in many ways.

What a difference a speech makes. The President set the record straight. Obama started his administration with an $8 billion deficit, two wars and a rapidly declining employment rate. The GOOP has been nothing but obstructionist on every issue for the entire year. The Democratic Party cannot abdicate leadership even if it only has a 57 vote (I don’t count LIEberman and Benny Nelson) majority.

The President set a new agenda. There is money for jobs, small business, and the environment. Health care is not off the table and both parties are tasked with finding a solution for it. There is a big new emphasis on education. Transparency is still a high priority and he is still promising Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Bottom line, he said most of the things that caused me to work for his election, he established a work plan for getting this done and he put the onus on the Congress, particularly the Senate, to get off its ass and get this done.

He promised to get us out of Iraq this year, a wonderful thing. I am not happy that he is pursuing this adventure in Afghanistan, but I used to think it was a good idea and so I understand why he is doing it. I have never been happy that Obama abandoned any effort to hold the Busches accountable for the eight years of facism they forced on our nation and I think his failure to do so will result in a repeat performance, perhaps in my lifetime.

One highlight was calling the Supremes out on their decision to turn government over to corporate fat cats, including foreign ones. The NYT reports that Alito reacted like the lying scum he is my mouthing “its not true.” So is the court planning to reverse it’s decision, create an exception for foreign corporations, or decide that foreigners cannot own controlling interests in American companies? Is he crazy?

The President plans to hold the GOOP responsible by holding monthly meetings with the leadership. I recommend he get these meetings on tape. You can’t trust the GOOP to tell the truth about what happened at those meetings.

In a few days we will have some evidence of whether this speech has an effect. Hairy and Nan should be coming up with some plan to get health care passed. The GOOP will be meeting with the President at it’s retreat this week. My guess is the GOOP will continue to obstruct, and Hairy will have to let them filibuster. GOOD!! Nothing like Armageddon to clear the decks.

Elizabeth Warren on 'The Daily Show'

If you watch any embedded Internet clip today, please make it Elizabeth Warren—Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP—on The Daily Show of Jan. 26. This is a brilliant human being who offers the most pithy summary of the country’s most recent financial history ever and also drives the real point home:

This is America’s middle class. We’ve hacked at it and chipped at it and pulled on it for 30 years now. And now there’s no more to do. Either we fix this problem going forward or the game really is over.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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'Stupid Hooverism?'

The reviews are in on last night’s breaking news re: the federal gov’ment’s spending freeze.

Rachel Vs. Jared Bernstein FTW:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Krugman calls it “appalling on every level.”

Robert Reich says “Main Street is in worse trouble than ever.”

“…a perfect example of fundamental unseriousness

Ezra Klein, on the logistics of a “spending freeze”:

The administration will target worthless programs, like agricultural subsidies, in order to preserve good programs. But the reason worthless programs live in budget after budget is they have powerful backers. And those backers will rush to Congress to protect their profits. You think Blanche Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Agricultural Committee and is behind in the polls for her 2010 reelection, is going to let her state’s subsidies get gored?

Candidate Barack Obama, on the “hatchet” versus the “scalpel”:

What's the Matter with Kansas?

Here are a few basic political truths.

#1. The stated goal of the Republigoat Party is to destroy the federal government. The stated goal of the Democratic Party is to make the federal government work better for human beings.

#2. Theoretically in the United States, every adult person is guaranteed exactly one vote. However, not every adult person in the United States is guaranteed to be ridiculously wealthy.

#3. Massive power may be held generally by either of two entities, corporations and/or the government.

#4. Your vote does not hold any influence whatsoever over corporations. Stephen Helmsley doesn’t give a crap whether you vote Republican, Democrat, or Gypsy. Theoretically, though, your vote still matters to the people who run the government.

Given these simple realities, then, why in the wide wide world of sports are so many people yelling rock-chalk for the corporations? How can any American cheer the decision in the Citizens United case?

Leave Your Munny

From The Huffington Post:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner does not think that Move Your Money is a good idea.

Geithner addressed the campaign against too-big-to-fail banks during a recent interview with Politico. While Geithner said he understood the anger against bailed out banks and said it was fair of bank customers to expect more, he did not explain why he thought that it was a bad idea.

But Papa Bonk did, in a comment to a previous post regarding ZsaZsa’s efforts, comments that deserve to be front-paged:

Dog, I love populists! So much idealism. So little information. At this point community banks don’t want your money. Your deposits are a liability that they have to hold capital against, and its hard to build capital in this economy. Moreover, if they are well-managed (i.e. they didn’t get overextended in the great bubble and are still healthy) they have all the money they need and are making all the loans they can reasonably make.

If you want to support your local bank or credit union you should be sure to get your car loan there. Many people find it convenient to get the loan from GMAC or whatever captive financier is available at the dealer. See the local bank or CU before you refinance the house or take out a student loan. If you are using fee income services at Chase, by all means go to the local bank or CU. The fees are probably lower.

Until interest rates go up, no one is making money on money. Park your spare cash someplace safe, try to get a little return on it, but the local bank doesn’t really need it. If you want to burden BofA, leave your money with them.