McCain Promises Ideologue Judges

mccain5 John McCain has long rankled social conservatives with his stance on issues such as campaign finance reform and support for some embryonic stem cell research. On Tuesday, he sought to reassure those voters of his conservative credentials as he outlined his philosophy for appointing judges to the federal bench.

In an address at Wake Forest University, McCain pledged to nominate jurists who believe “there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power” and who are “faithful in all things to the Constitution of the United States.”

McCain added that he would choose nominees with “a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint.”

By way of example, McCain said he would look for people in the cast of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., and his friend the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. He called them “jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference.”

Some Democratic leaders immediately denounced McCain’s speech. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, accused McCain of pandering to the far right. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement that McCain voted for every one of President Bush’s activist judges and said McCain “promises hundreds more just like them.”

Inserted from <LA Times>

Roberts, Alito and Rehnquist do not represent judicial restraint.  They are ideologue rightists.  Rehnquist was so aligned with right wing bigotry that he signed compacts on two separate properties that he once owned promising not to sell them to a person of color.  At other times, McConJob has held up Scalia and Thomas as role models for judges.  If he gets the opportunity to appoint one more ideologue to SCOTUS, we can kiss the Constitution goodbye forever.

Not only is McConJob a threat to the Constitution, but also he showed further signs of dementia.

7McCainDementia During his speech on judicial philosophy today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared to have what Fox News’s Brit Hume would likely describe as a “senior moment.” In his prepared remarks, McCain intended to thank “the students and faculty of Wake Forest University” for their hospitality. But as the AP reports, when he delivered the speech, “he appeared confused about where he was for a moment“:

He appeared confused about where he was for a moment Tuesday, saying, “I appreciate the hospitality of the students and faculty of West Virginia,” then correcting himself to say Wake Forest as the audience laughed.

Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Inserted from <Think Progress>

I can’t speak for anyone else, but don’t you want a President who at least knows where he or she is?


A Sad Case of Suicide

74019529MW004_DC_MADAM_ATTE Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the “D.C. Madam” of intrigue and introspection, committed suicide yesterday. Her mother found her body hanging in the shed on her property in Tarpon Springs, Fla. Why do we feel so sad?

It was a sorry finish to a sordid tale. Had it been a classic literary tragedy, it couldn’t have ended any other way. She was a fallen woman, all scarlet-lettered and walking shame, every archetype of female sin and suffering.

We didn’t feel particularly connected to her. Aside from a few media types, not many people attended her public trial last month, where she was convicted of running a prostitution ring. Everyone had moved on; there were newer and more salacious scandals.

Maybe we feel sad because of the gendered irony. The powerful men whose names surfaced in the scandal, the ones who did not appear in the courtroom, who did not have to discuss their menstrual cycles publicly, have all remained unscathed.

David Vitter is still that good-looking junior senator from Louisiana. Harlan K. Ullman (creator of “shock and awe”) is listed as a senior associate on the Web site of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Former State Department official Randall L. Tobias, who previously oversaw AIDS relief, promoting abstinence and a policy requiring grant recipients to swear they opposed prostitution, slunk back to Indiana after his resignation. There, he was appointed president of the board of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. The city’s mayor said that America “believed in second chances.”

We anticipated that Palfrey would be sentenced to a few years in prison, do her time quietly and then emerge like Heidi Fleiss, like Lil’ Kim, like Martha Stewart, like any number of the bad girls for whom a prison sentence functions as a cleansing ritual, a path back into society’s embrace… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

No doubt Palfrey would have served only a small portion of her sentence and emerged to a a book/appearance deal that would have made her wealthy for life, but in the process, it would have exposed some more very powerful people.

Did you hear the joke about thet whistle blower that was found in a field with 47 bullet holes?  That was a sad case of suicide too.

‘No Acquittals’ at Gitmo

29bush_hitler The former chief prosecutor here took the witness stand on Monday on behalf of a detainee and testified that top Pentagon officials had pressured him in deciding which cases to prosecute and what evidence to use.

The prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force, testified that Pentagon officials had interfered with his work for political reasons and told him that charges against well-known detainees “could have real strategic political value” and that there could be no acquittals.

His testimony completed one of the more unusual transformations in the contentious history of Guantánamo. Colonel Davis, who is on active duty as a senior Air Force official and was one of the Pentagon’s most vocal advocates of the Guantánamo military commissions, has become one of the most visible critics of the system.

Testifying about his assertions for the first time, Colonel Davis said a senior Pentagon official who oversaw the military commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, reversed a decision he had made and insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of detainees and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.

Called to the stand by a Navy defense lawyer and testifying before a military judge, Colonel Davis said General Hartmann directed him last year to push war crimes cases here quickly. He said the general was trying to give the system legitimacy before a new president took office. He testified that General Hartmann referred to the long difficulties the Pentagon had had in operating the military commissions and said, “If we don’t get some cases going before the election, this thing’s going to implode.”

Spokesmen for the Pentagon and General Hartmann declined to comment on Monday, saying that the questioning was continuing before the military judge…

Inserted from <NY Times>

I first posted about Col. Davis on February 21. The GOP Reich likes to compare these tribunals with the Nuremberg trials, but in Nuremberg we did not extract testimony under torture and we did not decide the verdicts before the trials took place. Some might argue that some of these terrorists do not deserve a fair trial. Whether or not this is true, what they do or do not deserve is not relevant. This is not about who that are. It’s about who we are. At Nuremberg, we tried and convicted German judges for running exactly the same kinds of courts that Bush and the GOP are running here. If we ignore our own standards of justice to combat terrorism, then the war on terror is already over and the terrorists have won.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

SCOTUS Goose Steps on Voter ID

29voterid Finally, the country will be rescued from its long nightmare struggle with voter fraud! And if certain voters find it harder to get their ballot cast, then so be it.

From the AP:

The Supreme Court has ruled that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights. The decision validates Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

The court vote 6-3 to uphold Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement. Democrats and civil rights groups say the law would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots.

As those who have followed this issue will remember, this is not a surprise. As Jeffrey Toobin put it early this year:

As a general matter, in recent years the Court has been reluctant to find what is charged in this case: a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. (The notable exception, to belabor the issue, was for a plaintiff named George W. Bush.) In the end, though, it will not be the judiciary that rescues democracy; whatever the obstacles, the problems with the ballot box must be solved at the ballot box.

A little more detail in an update from the AP:

The law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'” Justice John Paul Stevens said in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also agreed with the outcome, but wrote separately.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented….

“We cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters,” Stevens said.

Stevens’ opinion suggests that the outcome could be different in a state where voters could provide evidence that their rights had been impaired.

But in dissent, Souter said Indiana’s voter ID law “threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state’s citizens.”

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

It election fraud, not counting the GOP fraud of rigged voting machines, were a problem in this country, this statute would make sense, but there has been no evidence that it is.  To the contrary, lack of voter participation is an issue.  Since the GOP would not invent a solution for which there is no problem, the problem must be a different one and it is.  Poor, minority and disabled voters vote overwhelming for Democrats, and the GOP wants to disenfranchise as many as possible.  This is a huge step backwards for voting rights.  For disabled people and people without transportation to either report in person to a DMV before voting or to their county election HQ within days after casting a provisional ballot is an extreme hardship.

McCain has promised to appoint Justices like Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas.  Can our nation survive another justice of their ilk?

Supply-side Jesus Required in Iraq

26Christian2 When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.

Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, declined to comment on the case, saying, “The department does not discuss pending litigation.”

Specialist Hall’s lawsuit is the latest incident to raise questions about the military’s religion guidelines. In 2005, the Air Force issued new regulations in response to complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy that evangelical Christian officers used their positions to proselytize. In general, the armed forces have regulations, Ms. Lainez said, that respect “the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”

To Specialist Hall and other critics of the military, the guidelines have done little to change a culture they say tilts heavily toward evangelical Christianity. Controversies have continued to flare, largely over tactics used by evangelicals to promote their faith. Perhaps the most high-profile incident involved seven officers, including four generals, who appeared, in uniform and in violation of military regulations, in a 2006 fund-raising video for the Christian Embassy, an evangelical Bible study group.

“They don’t trust you because they think you are unreliable and might break, since you don’t have God to rely on,” Specialist Hall said of those who proselytize in the military. “The message is, ‘It’s a Christian nation, and you need to recognize that.’ ”

Soft-spoken and younger looking than his 23 years, Specialist Hall began a chapter of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers at Camp Speicher, near Tikrit, to support others like him.

At the July meeting, Major Welborn told the soldiers they had disgraced those who had died for the Constitution, Specialist Hall said. When he finished, Major Welborn said, according to the statement: “I love you guys; I just want the best for you. One day you will see the truth and know what I mean.”

Major Welborn declined to comment beyond saying, “I’d love to tell my side of the story because it’s such a false story.”

But Timothy Feary, the other soldier at the meeting, said in an e-mail message: “Jeremy is telling the truth. I was there and witnessed everything.”

It is unclear how widespread religious discrimination or proselytizing is in the armed forces, constitutional law experts and leaders of veterans’ groups said. No one has independently studied the issue, and service members are reluctant to come forward because of possible backlash, those experts said… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

26ChristianFascism Were this a single isolated incident, I would be inclined to pass it off as one man’s fanaticism, but in context with ongoing attempts by the Bush/GOP  Reich to proselytize out troops, this can only be viewed as an intentional violation of the Constitution by the GOP.

I documented HERE, that according to the Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously approved by the US Senate on June 7, 1797, the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.  Thus the claims made by Major Welborn are lies.

Speaking as a Christian, I’m all for Christianity, but the dogma of the religious right is not Christian.  Their attempts to impose their supply-side gospel of hate, war, death, bigotry, greed, and intolerance is criminal.

EU Urges US Not to Resume Executions

25whyDoWeKillPeople A total of 39 European countries issued a common declaration urging the United States not to resume executions.

The moves follows an April 16 ruling by the US Supreme Court, which by concluding that death by lethal injection does not violate the constitution has put an end to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the US.

“The European Union notes with disappointment the United States Supreme Court’s decision,” said the statement issued on behalf of all 27 EU member states and endorsed by 12 other countries.

“In light of this US Supreme Court decision, we strongly encourage the continuation of the de facto moratorium in place within the United States allowing the ongoing debate on the complex issues involved to be thoroughly deliberated,” it added.

At least 14 executions are reported to have been postponed while US judges considered their verdict. Three of these are now expected to take place this northern summer.

The EU is unanimously against the death penalty and in December submitted a resolution, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it.

“The EU recalls that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the application of capital punishment represents an irreparable and irreversible loss of human life. No legal system is immune from mistakes and there is no reliable evidence that the death penalty provides added value in terms of deterrence,” EU governments said in their joint statement.

The EU statement was endorsed by 12 other European countries, including Norway, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia and Azerbaijan.

Inserted from <The Age>

This time, the US should follow the advice of our more civilized neighbors and leave the ranks of those nations who still practice such barbarism. Both parties are at fault here, but the GOP is especially rabid on this policy, conforming that they are, in fact, the pro-death party.

Who Hates Women and Minorities?

GOPKKK Yesterday I posted an article HERE, supporting the Fair Pay Act. The right ring ideologues on the Supreme Court enabled pay discrimination against women and minorities by misinterpreting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the GOP filibustered the Fair pay Act, and it was defeated. Here is the complete list of Senators who believe that pay discrimination should continue:

Alexander (R-TN), Allard (R-CO), Barrasso (R-WY), Bennett (R-UT), Bond (R-MO), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX),Craig (R-ID), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Dole (R-NC), Domenici (R-NM), Ensign (R-NV), Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Gregg (R-NH), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchison (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Kyl (R-AZ), Lugar (R-IN), Martinez (R-FL), McConnell (R-KY), Murkowski (R-AK), Reid (D-NV), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Stevens (R-AK), Thune (R-SD), Vitter (R-LA), Voinovich (R-OH), Warner (R-VA), and Wicker (R-MS)

Hagel (R-NE) and McCain (R-AZ) did not vote, but you won’t believe what McDubya had to say!!

mccain2 McCain explained his opposition to the bill by claiming it “opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems.” He added that instead of legislation allowing women to fight for equal pay, they simply need “education and training“:

“They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else,” McCain said. “And it’s hard for them to leave their families when they don’t have somebody to take care of them.

“It’s a vicious cycle that’s affecting women, particularly in a part of the country like this, where mining is the mainstay; traditionally, women have not gone into that line of work, to say the least,” he said.

… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

If McHypocrite and the GOP have their way, you ladies won’t worry your pretty little heads about equal pay, anf you minorities will head for the back of the bus. Is there any place in the Senate or the White House for people with such an attitude?

I say NO! What do you say? What are you going to do about it?

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus