Thursday, July 28, 2005

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Silly rabbit, zen is for kids! Posted by Picasa

Lola's favorite chew toy? My hands and feet! Posted by Picasa

Still friendly! Posted by Picasa

Lola practices for the sleeping olympics. Posted by Picasa

Activism is in the eye of the beholder

Stolen in whole from Salon this morning:

On Bush's bench?
Supporters argue John Roberts will be committed to judicial restraint. But in his Guantanamo ruling, he gave Bush virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. This is restraint?

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By David Cole

July 28, 2005 | "The cardinal principle of judicial restraint -- if it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more." So said John Roberts, President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in an opinion for the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year. Many of Roberts' supporters, including former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo on the Op-Ed pages of the Washington Post and George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen in the New York Times, have argued that Roberts will be a cautious conservative committed to judicial restraint -- in the mold of former justices John Marshall Harlan or Felix Frankfurter, rather than a radical conservative in the mold of justices Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas.

Yet earlier this month, coincidentally on the very day the president was interviewing Roberts at the White House for the Supreme Court post, Roberts joined an opinion issued by the D.C. Circuit that violated that cardinal principle. He did so, moreover, in a case raising fundamental questions about Roberts' views on presidential power and checks and balances in the war on terror. Few of Roberts' actions deserve more scrutiny by members of the Senate than his vote in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

The decision upheld the legality of President Bush's controversial military tribunals for enemy combatants held at the U.S. base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In doing so, Roberts and his colleagues reached out to decide a number of issues "not necessary to decide." And they decided every one in President Bush's favor, essentially granting him unchecked power to try, and to execute, enemy combatants.

The military tribunals created by President Bush permit individuals to be convicted -- and sentenced to death -- on the basis of secret evidence that neither the defendant nor his chosen civilian lawyer has any right to see or confront. They permit no appeal outside the military chain of command; President Bush authorizes the indictment, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the final arbiter of appeals.

One of the first Guantánamo detainees to be selected for trial in the tribunals, Salim Hamdan, allegedly Osama bin Laden's driver and bodyguard, challenged the legality of the tribunal procedures in federal court, before he was actually tried. In November 2004, Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court in Washington declared the tribunals unlawful, finding them inconsistent with U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions, the treaty establishing the laws of war.

In an opinion joined in full by Judge Roberts, the D.C. Circuit decided on July 15 that it did not have the power to rule on much of the case, first, because many of Hamdan's claims could be raised on appeal after he is convicted -- if he is in fact convicted -- and second, because in the court's view the Geneva Conventions do not create rights enforceable in federal courts by individuals. The court also expressed doubt about whether "someone in Hamdan's position" -- that is, a foreign national outside the United States -- could properly raise a separation of powers claim. That should have been the end of the matter. If the claims were not properly presented, the court should have said so and dismissed the case.

But the court -- and Judge Roberts -- did not stop there. Instead, it went on to decide the very legal questions that it had said were not properly before it -- questions that were, in Roberts' earlier words, "not necessary to decide," and therefore "necessary not to decide." Most significantly, after ruling that the Geneva Conventions claims could not be heard, it gratuitously went on to opine that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to Mr. Hamdan or any member of al-Qaida. On this view, much disputed by international law experts, the president is simply not bound by the laws of war in his treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism.

In addition, instead of first deciding the threshold question of whether Hamdan in fact had standing to raise a separation of powers objection to President Bush's unilateral creation of the tribunals, the court simply leapt over the threshold and decided, on the merits, that President Bush had not violated the separation of powers in doing so -- again deciding an issue that was "not necessary to decide," and doing so in a way that eliminated any check on the president's authority.

In Hamdan, in other words, Judge Roberts disregarded his own "cardinal principle" in the name of giving the president broad unfettered powers in the war on terror.

This departure is telling not only for what it reveals about Roberts' fealty to judicial restraint. As the Supreme Court's enemy combatant cases from last summer showed, the court may be the last (and sometimes only) check on the president in the war on terror. Congress took no action whatsoever to check the president's assertion that he could lock up any human being anywhere in the world, citizen or foreign national, without charges, without trial and without access to a lawyer or the outside world.

It took the court to stand up to the president. In the case decided in June 2004 involving Yaser Hamdi, the U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan, Justice O'Connor famously wrote that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president." Congress should ensure that her replacement does not feel otherwise.

Everything we hear is intended to make us feel at more and more at ease with the nomination of Judge Roberts, but this one decision should be enough to give us pause; the powers of the president must be checked by the other branches of government. When we live in a time that Congress is unwilling to stand up to a president that walks the line of despotism, our Courts must be willing to be that branch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

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The lack of blogging of late

For all 5 of my faithful readers, and Pasquin too; you have my apologies for not blogging for most of the month. My only excuse is that work intruded into my life in such a manner that I could not seem to not draw parallels between the horrendous things going on at my job and the horrible things happening in this administration. Life can do that to you. So my solution was to not write, to pull a Thumper and say nothing at all; because I had nothing nice to say about anything at all. I am better now, the work situation is what it is, and I am about to take a much needed vacation! So I will blog today and tomorrow, post a few pictures of Cookie, Lola and maybe even one of Em and then I shall run away to the land of hurricanes, alligators and Mickey Mouse. If Pasquin is nice he might post while I am gone, but this is doubtful. I will attempt to post while I am vacationing, when I can.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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Patriotism vs. Nationalism

Digby wrote about patriotism on Monday; he said that it wasn’t about fighting wars it was about love of country. I wanted to take this a step further because I believe that our current war in Iraq has been sold to the American people, by the Bush government, using the antithesis of patriotism: nationalism.

Patriotism is based more than on love of country, not that I think Digby was limiting himself to this; it is what we base our love of country on. It is a love of freedom, of equality, of fair play, and of who we are striving to be as a collective people. It is our willingness to speak out against injustice that makes us patriots. It is our willingness to sacrifice that makes us patriots. It is our willingness to fight for another’s chance to strive for a life free from a concentration camp, and other such grave injustices that makes us patriots.

It is not the flag waving, yellow magnetic ribbons stuck on the bumpers on our cars that make us patriots; in fact many find those symbols offensive in their very overtness. Yet, when the WMD did not materialize in Iraq, it is this very cord that the Bush government played to in the American public. It is not justice, or there would not be torture and indefinite holding of prisoners. It is not sacrifice or there would not be tax cuts. It is not willingness to fight or our military would not be facing such a shortage, and we would be making life better and safer for the Iraqi people, not more uncertain and giving them a state of civil unrest and constant war.

Yet, if we do not agree with the Bush government then we are with the terrorists. We are traitors, even those that serve and have served honorably in the past. There are plenty of flags waving and plenty of yellow magnetic ribbons, but if you ask someone why they support the war the logic of patriotism breaks down to nationalism, and nationalism is a dangerous ism indeed. It truly is as I said above the antithesis of patriotism; where one serves to promote growth and good in a country the other usually leads to its downfall. The war in Iraq, is unjust, was based on half truths and lies, and now continues not based on patriotism but nationalism, no good comes from such wars and never has.

Friday, July 08, 2005

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Nap time for two sleepy girls. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

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It's just like riding a bike UNLESS

you're President Bush II.

GLENEAGLES, Scotland - President Bush collided with a local police officer and fell during a bike ride on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort while attending a meeting of world leaders Wednesday.

Bush suffered "mild to moderate" scrapes on his hands and arms that required bandages by the White House physician, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. The accident occurred on asphalt, McClellan said, and Bush was wearing a helmet.

How many times is it now that the monkey in chief has fallen off his bike?
Any bets on if he was attempting to chew gum at the same time?
A CIGARETTE!!!!! I have had the misfortune today of speaking to what seems like nothing but smokers on the phone all day long. I could hear them inhaling and exhaling each drag of nicotine. I have eaten ice. I have chewed gum. I have walked around the office looking like a lost puppy. No one in my office smokes, thank goodness.
I just spoke to the Mr. he was smoking. Somedays are sooo much harder than others, even months after you have quit.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

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The guessing game

Portions of our population are currently engaged in playing guess the Supreme Court nominee, others are playing guess what kind of nominee and yet others are playing suggest what the nominee ought to be. What we can be assured of as liberals, we aren't going to like the nominee. He/She isn't going to be what we think a Supreme Court nominee ought to be. It is that simple, it really matters not who it is Bush nominates, we as liberals will not agree with the nomination more than likely for one reason or another. (Unless Bush finds a deeply hidden, decent, intelligent streak, which means most of us, would be dumb founded and his own party would call for his impeachment).

He may nominate someone we can live with, but I would suggest we seriously consider if we can live with a war criminal as a Supreme Court Justice. I have considered being “reasonable” about Alberto Gonzales, but if he wasn't qualified to be AG why the hell would he be remotely qualified to sit on the highest court in the land? Look at what corner we are backing ourselves into before we willing walk into it. It would/will be an international embarrassment if one of our Supreme Court Justices cannot travel outside of the United States because he is a war criminal. That being said and off my chest the rest of the world may now go back to debating who and what a Justice should be, it isn't like the Idiot in Chief is going to listen to us anyway.

Monday, July 04, 2005

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I wonder.....

"Several thousand students, veterans, civic leaders and members of the military were expected to pack West Virginia University's downtown campus for the ticket-only event. Demonstrators were kept some distance away and could barely be heard."

If this is what the founding father's had in mind for some reason I seriously doubt it. What a fucking wuss as if seeing or hearing someone who disagrees with him might condemn him to the fate of the Wicked Witch of the West when she gets wet. If life were only so simple.

Friday, July 01, 2005

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Well crap

I fear I will have to throw a liberal hissy fit when you know who names his nomination to replace O'Connor. I don't like a moderate seat being replaced with a conservative, not one bit, not one wee little bit.

Updated You can read about Luttig here; he is rumored to be on the short list.