Posts filed under 'Constitution'

When America Does It, It’s Not Illegal

Shorter Cheney: Laws are for the weak.

A CIA inspector general’s report released Monday documented how interrogators menaced “high-value” detainees with a gun and a power drill, threatened their families and used other methods that went beyond even the permissive interrogation rules set by the Bush administration Justice Department.

Cheney, who strongly opposes the Obama administration’s new probe into alleged detainee abuse, was asked in the Fox News interview whether he was “OK” with interrogations that went beyond Justice’s specific legal authorization.

“I am,” the former vice president replied.

“My sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks,” he said. “It was good policy. It was properly carried out. It worked very, very well.”

In other words, the ends justify the means, even when the means have nothing to do with achieving them.

August 29th, 2009 at 12:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Constitution,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

Oh My God, They Killed Irony! You Bastards!

Between teabaggers lamenting the infringement of their 1st Amendment rights and conservatives in general talking up Obama’s fascist police state, it seems like irony gets killed every single day.  Today’s executioner is Paul Broun:

The Athens Banner-Herald reports today that Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) told constituents yesterday that he thinks Democratic leaders are planning to declare martial law:

He also spoke of a “socialistic elite” – Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – who might use a pandemic disease or natural disaster as an excuse to declare martial law.

“They’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” he said. “We’ve seen that historically.”

The right’s newfound concern for the Constitution and civil liberties is admirable, but several years too late.

August 12th, 2009 at 09:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Judicial Activism = Absence Of Conservative Judicial Activism

That’s really the only consistent definition that I can see in the Republicans’ usage of the term.  John McCain is the latest offender:

One day after he warned that Republicans have a “very, very deep hole that we’ve got to come out of” with Latino voters, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he would oppose the first Latina nominated to the nation’s highest court. Moreover, in his statement opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor, McCain misrepresents his own record on judges:

Again and again, Judge Sotomayor seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case, thereby substituting herself in the role of a legislator. … To protect the equal, but separate roles of all three branches of government, I cannot support activist judges that seek to legislate from the bench. I have not supported such nominees in the past, and I cannot support such a nominee to the highest court in the land.

Despite his claim that he has never supported a judge who “seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case,” McCain voted in favor of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito; and he described both Roberts and Alito as “model judges” during the 2008 campaign….

[Insert Roberts, Alito, and Thomas’ greatest hits here]

As a Yale Law School study published before Roberts and Alito joined the Supreme Court determined, Justice Thomas is the one justice who is most likely to vote to invalidate an Act of Congress — doing so a massive 65.63% of the time. The Court’s two Clinton appointees, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, are the least likely to second-guess Congress.  So McCain has no problem with judges who “substitute [them]self in the role of a legislator;” he’s just upset that Sotomayor won’t push the same right-wing agenda as his favorite justices.

“Judicial activism” is transparently dishonest garbage, but I predict that Republicans will continue using it as an excuse to vote against moderate and progressive judges until roughly the end of time.

August 3rd, 2009 at 07:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Judiciary,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Cargo Cult Democracy

There was a great letter in yesterday’s NYT, lamenting just how far American democracy has fallen:

Six moderate/conservative senators from the smallest states will dictate the terms of health care reform, or whether there will be reform, to the rest of the American populace.

These senators oppose single-payer, even a public option, and are obsessed with the “cost” argument. Polls, however, consistently indicate that an overwhelming majority of Americans want either single-payer or a public option and are not so concerned with the cost if health care is delivered.

An even larger majority wants major, fundamental health care reform.

We tout our “democracy” throughout the world, and at every election cycle its praises are sung, yet a handful of senators acting outside the mainstream, apparently in line with their small constituencies, can thwart the will of the vast majority of Americans, denying in the process, or limiting, a fundamental right of all: a healthy life.

The only part of that last paragraph that I would quibble with is the assumption that these six senators’ rural constituencies are as stubbornly opposed to the public option as they are.

But I’m more interested in the larger point: We brag about how great our democracy is, we use it as an excuse to do whatever we want overseas because it’s in the service of our fantastic democracy and sharing its wonders with the rest of the world, but the truth is that we are a democracy in name only.  Like the Pacific cargo cultists, we build the structures and follow the routines of democracy, but the actual democracy is long gone.

We hold free and fair elections, wherein we vote for the candidates who spend the most money and package themselves in the most compelling way and get the most flattering media coverage, with substantive policy hardly a factor at all.  Or we vote for the candidate whose district has been gerrymandered to ensure that the same party wins all the time, no matter how badly it performs.  Or our votes are nullified by dodgy electronic voting machines or suppressed through fraud and  intimidation.

We elect presidents and congressmen to represent our interests, who instead do the bidding of the corporations who gave them the money to buy our votes.

We have a code of laws and a brilliant, enduring Constitution, but our presidents and judges ignore and distort them when it suits their purposes.  And if the president gets caught, Congress just ignores it, flails impotently, or makes it retroactively legal.

That’s not democracy; we’re just going through the motions.  Real democracy would mean real accountability, which would mean a lot less security for those in power.  But as long as we have a political system which ignores the masses and rewards selfishness and amorality in the ruling elite, it’s hard to see where reform is going to come from.  It’s a catch-22, really – the system is designed to produce a neverending supply of exactly the kind of politicians who will fight to the death to preserve it.

August 1st, 2009 at 02:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics

What. I’ve. Been. Saying. (Again)

Almost four years ago, I observed that “Bush’s claim that he had to take extraordinary measures to fight terror is at odds with his resolute unwillingness to take ordinary measures against terror.”  Apparently the intel inspectors general agree with me:

We’ve known for years that the Bush administration ignored and broke the law repeatedly in the name of national security. It is now clear that many of those programs could have been conducted just as easily within the law — perhaps more effectively and certainly with far less damage to the justice system and to Americans’ faith in their government.

That is the inescapable conclusion from a devastating report by the inspectors general of the intelligence and law-enforcement community on President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. The report shows that the longstanding requirement that the government obtain a warrant was not hindering efforts to gather intelligence on terrorists after the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the argument that the law was an impediment was concocted by White House and Justice Department lawyers after Mr. Bush authorized spying on Americans’ international communications.


So why break the law, again and again? Two things seem disturbingly clear. First, President Bush and his top aides panicked after the Sept. 11 attacks. And second, Mr. Cheney and his ideologues, who had long chafed at any legal constraints on executive power, preyed on that panic to advance their agenda.

It is absolutely criminal that these people are not being treated as criminals.

July 17th, 2009 at 09:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

Legal Fail

Okay, I am admittedly not a law-talking expert, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work this way…

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, asked if she would recuse herself from future gun control cases because she ruled in the past that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment does not apply to state gun control laws.

Can anyone see where justices recusing themselves from cases involving issues where they had previously ruled might potentially cause some problems?

July 17th, 2009 at 08:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

People Unclear On The Concept


John McCain and David Gregory:

MR. GREGORY:  Should there be an investigation, do you think?

SEN. McCAIN:  I don’t know if–first of all, I’d like to know the facts of the case before there should be an, “an investigation.”

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.


July 14th, 2009 at 10:05am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,McCain,Media,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

The Most Important Legislation EVAR!

According to Joe Lieberman and his BFF Lindsey Graham, there is no higher legislative priority than ensuring that photographic evidence of war crimes never sees the light of day.

It is so heartwarming to see someone standing up for the torturers.  Truly, they are an inspiration to us all.

June 9th, 2009 at 09:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Lieberman,Politics,Republicans,Torture,Wankers,War

Not The Ethical Reprimand!

Liz Cheney helpfully explains that it’s not torture that’s the real crime, it’s calling torture torture that’s the real crime:

I hear an awful lot of people out there throwing words around like “torture” and “lines being crossed,” and i think it’s a really, you know, it’s…  it’s irresponsible and frankly it’s libelous because you have got brave Americans, men and women, who were involved in this program at the C.I.A who were involved in making sure that the program didn’t cross any lines at the Justice Department.  Those people were responsible for saving American lives and keeping us safe.  And I think it is offensive for all Americans for this White House to suggest that somehow those actions deserve prosecution or… or… ya-know some sort of ya-know ethical reprimand.

An ethical reprimand?  Good heavens, what kind of inhuman monster does she think Obama is?  First it’s ethical reprimands, and then the next thing you know it’ll be sternly worded letters.  The very fabric of this country could unravel in the face of such extreme sanctions!

May 29th, 2009 at 11:24am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Constitution,Media,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

A Tincture Of Hypocrisy

No Republican who was not calling for Bush’s resignation or impeachment over the last three years of his term has any right to say this:

The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.

George Will is kidding, right?  Please tell me he’s kidding and didn’t just rediscover his hunger for “constitutional values” and the rule of law when Obama put his hand on Abe Lincoln’s Bible.

May 14th, 2009 at 11:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Media,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

A Modest Proposal

So, as I understand it, the Voting Rights Act may be in trouble:

[T]he Voting Rights Act… among other things, requires a federal judge or the Department of Justice to “pre-clear” any changes to voting procedures in parts of the country that have a history of excluding voters on the basis of race.  White racists who try to exclude minorities as minorities have to justify their decision to do so, and their plans are frequently thwarted by the good folks in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

If early reports from yesterday’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court are accurate, however, that may soon be changing.  Apparently, the five conservative justices are upset that the Voting Rights Act singles out a handful of largely southern states, while allowing states like Michigan and California to escape supervision under the pre-clearance provisions—so they look ready to strike the whole thing down.

If the problem is that southern states are being singled out when there are racists everywhere, how is that an argument for eliminating the VRA entirely?  If the conservative justices are so worried that northern racists are getting away with murder, then why not simply expand the pre-clearance requirement to all states?  I mean, their objective is to eliminate racially discriminatory election laws, right?


5 comments April 30th, 2009 at 10:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Elections,Judiciary,Politics,Racism,Republicans

When The Nazis Do It, It’s Not Illegal

Wow, Condi sure had an eventful Monday at Stanford…

Awesome.  A few more visits back to Stanford and she’ll have a legacy to rival Dick Cheney’s, and her “husband” will be in prison.

1 comment April 30th, 2009 at 09:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

The Law And The Government Are Supposed To Be On The Same Side

Yet another example of why the Bush administration was morally and ethically repulsive:

Karen Greenberg’s book, Least Worst Place, gives us a very compelling answer. It’s found in a passage in which Will Taft (who emerges from all of this as a minor hero who genuinely believes the values that he articulates) relays a discussion he had with John Yoo. He didn’t understand why there was such ferocious pushback against the Geneva Conventions–why not just accept and live with these standards? America had done so for fifty years. The room got quiet, and Yoo said, “We have an Article 17 problem.”

That was a key point. Article 17 says, “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war,” and John Yoo and the others did not want to have to agree to that. Taft understood what was going on, and he fought back. The State Department team wrote a memo calling Yoo’s opinion “seriously flawed” and “fundamentally inaccurate.” They were saying that John Yoo’s lawyering was incompetent.

But we learn from Greenberg’s book that there was a point to all of this. Yoo’s analysis of the law was dishonest. It was driven by a need to get a certain result–to introduce a system of torture of the prisoners. He was intent on twisting the law to get all the restrictions out of the way.

Good-faith opinion writing? I think not.

The whole purpose of the OLC is to tell the administration what it legally can and cannot do, not act like a mob lawyer finding loopholes or concocting bogus rationales for whatever sordid things the boss wants to do.  If (I repeat, IF) we still had functioning mechanisms for accountability, Yoo and Bybee’s legal malpractice would have exposed Bush and his inner circle to the risk of some serious jailtime.

The OLC is supposed to rein in the administration’s criminal impulses, not enable them.

April 30th, 2009 at 05:53pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Accountability

Cory Doctorow is talking about something completely different (police brutality in the UK), but his central argument is eerily applicable to the situation here in the US:

Transparency means nothing unless it is accompanied by the rule of law. It means nothing unless it is set in a system of good and responsible government, of oversight of authority that expeditiously and effectively handles citizen complaints. Transparency means nothing without justice.


Transparency on its own is nothing more than spectacle: it’s just another season of Big Brother in which all the contestants are revealed, over and over again, as thugs. Transparency on its own robs as much hope as it delivers, because transparency without justice is a perennial reminder that the game is rigged and that those in power govern for power’s sake, not for justice.

Sure, it’s great that Obama’s DOJ released all those torture memos, but it’s terribly demoralizing when he continues to show pretty much zero interest in pursuing investigations and prosecutions even after the depth of BushCo’s depravity has been exposed.

Sure, he may yet bow to pressure, or Holder may choose to do the right thing, but enforcing the law and protecting the Constitution is not something that our government should have to be forced into kicking and screaming.  I mean, it’s kind of their job, after all.

April 29th, 2009 at 08:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Quote Of The Day

From John Yoo’s Dickipedia entry:

Having devoted his life to the common dick practice of redefining words to mean something different and more convenient, Yoo, during the course of one business day, redefined “acceptable behavior for a civilized nation” to “pretty much anything up to the reenactment of an Eli Roth movie.”

That. Is. Perfect.

(h/t watertiger)

April 27th, 2009 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Prisoners,Quotes,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Catch Of The Day

Turns out even Ronald Reagan’s DOJ thought waterboarding was illegal.

During the Reagan Administration, the Department of Justice prosecuted a Texas sheriff and three deputies for waterboarding suspects to obtain confessions, and won convictions. The sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and the deputies to 4 years.

So, conservatives… if Ronald Reagan is infallible… and he was anti-waterboarding…

You can’t even argue that waterboarding is okay for obtaining intel but not confessions.

April 27th, 2009 at 08:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture

So What?

So Gallup is doing another poll on whether or not the American public supports criminal investigations of the Bush administration’s justification and use of torture.

But should it really matter?  I mean, since when should public opinion determine whether the rule of law gets upheld, whether criminals get held accountable?

And conversely, how dare conservatives and concern trolls like Broder proclaim that any investigations or prosecutions would be politically motivated?  If they’re so confident that the Bush administration did nothing illegal, shouldn’t they welcome the chance to clear their names?  And if they’re not so confident, are they once again admitting that they place partisan loyalty above respect for the law?

April 26th, 2009 at 02:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Media,Politics,Polls,Prisoners,Torture,Wankers

Wanker Of The Day

Shorter David Frum: Prosecuting criminal politicians = criminalizing politics.

Apparently it is inconceivable to conservatives that:

A) The Bush administration’s activities were illegal, and

B) That illegal (Republican) activities should ever be investigated or prosecuted.

I especially liked the part where he warned about the possibility of reprisals by Republicans.  Because Republicans never indulge in trumped-up politically-motivated prosecutions.

(h/t Phoenix Woman)

April 24th, 2009 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Media,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

Democracy 101

Accountability = Democracy.  Impunity = Not Democracy.

So, stories over the last few years, all coming together over the last few days, unambiguously tell us that the highest officials of the US Government ordered the commission of war crimes, in order to obtain false information to justify an even more egregious crime of waging an unnecessary, aggressive war in which innocent people are still being killed. But when the opposition party takes over, the official response is that the US government cannot hold a single person legally accountable.

At the same time, Wall Street banksters have just devastated the US economy and world economy, causing billions of people untold economic suffering that will last (even worsen) for years, and not a single bankster has been held legally accountable. Most are still in their enriched executive positions, demanding the terms under which the government will continue to prop them up, as they successfully lobby Congress to weaken every piece of consumer protection or meaningful oversight.

You stand back and look at this, and it’s hard not to see it as a massive “systemic” failure of the US governance system. The principle of accountability, notions of fairness and justice, and the simple concept that no one is about the law — sorry, but these are all in freefall, and almost none of our “democratic” leaders seem to give a damn.

If laws are not enforced, or are only enforced for the little people, then they have no value, and the people who control our government have no incentive to obey the law or look out for anyone’s interests but their own.

It looks like we’re officially there.

April 23rd, 2009 at 09:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture

Co-Wanker Of The Day, Part III

I know, right? So many wankers, so little time.

Shorter Wingnut Law Center: ZOMG Obama wants to take away our veterans’ constitutional right to join hate groups and kill people!

April 20th, 2009 at 08:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Elections,Media,Obama,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

Tinfoil Vindication?

To me, one of the least convincing explanations for the Democrats’ fecklessness during the past 7 years was that the Bush administration was using NSA wiretaps to blackmail them.  I always thought that sounded farfetched and paranoid, but now I’m not so sure:

Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”


[C]ontrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for “lack of evidence,” it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.

Holy crap.  That sure sounds like blackmail to me – unless it means Harman was already in the tank for the Bush administration and they were just trying to protect one of their own.  Which is not exactly encouraging either.

Either way, this damn well better cost Harman her seat.

April 20th, 2009 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics

Same As The Old Boss, Continued

This is not encouraging:

Five years ago, Dawn [Johnsen] co-authored a document entitled “Principles to Guide the Office of Legal Counsel,” in which she argued that “OLC should publicly disclose its written legal opinions in a timely manner, absent strong reasons for delay or nondisclosure.”  Dawn’s statement of principles is nuanced, but it begins with the presumption that disclosure should be the rule, never the exception:

OLC should follow a presumption in favor of timely publication of its written legal opinions. Such disclosure helps to ensure executive branch adherence to the rule of law and guard against excessive  claims of executive authority. . . . There nonetheless will exist some legal advice that properly should remain confidential, most notably, some advice regarding classified and some other national security matters. . . .  In all events, OLC should in each administration consider the  circumstances in which advice should be kept confidential, with a presumption in favor of publication, and publication policy and practice should not vary substantially from administration to administration. The values of transparency and accountability remain constant, as do any existing legitimate rationales for secret executive branch law.

So Dawn would apply “a presumption in favor of publication” in all cases.  Though she also recognizes that some OLC advice regarding “national security matters” may overcome this presumption, the presumption itself is applied in all cases.

Compare Dawn’s statement with President Obama’s statement announcing the release of the torture memos, which applies the opposite presumption:

While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However, after consulting with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and others, I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release.

Rather than starting with a presumption of disclosure, President Obama’s analysis begins with the presumption that, because these memos concern national security matters, they should presumptively be treated as secret.  Although he ultimately concludes that the memos should be disclosed, he does so because “exceptional circumstances . . . require their release.”  In other words, while Dawn requires exceptional circumstances to keep any OLC advice secret, the President will only release advice related to national security when such exceptional circumstances demand it.


So while the distinction between Dawn’s presumption favoring disclosure and President Obama’s presumption favoring secrecy is subtle, it is very significant.  Once Dawn is confirmed, I hope she is sucessful in restoring her views on transparency to OLC.

I disagree.  It’s not that subtle.

April 17th, 2009 at 11:28am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Obama,Prisoners,Torture,Wankers

Bush OLCer Laments That Obama DOJ Not As Ethical As Dubya’s (No, Really)

Yes, overriding the OLC on voting rights for DC is far, far worse than providing legal justifications for warrantless wiretapping, torture, and unlimited detention without due process.  This right here is my favorite part:

Holder didn’t ask for Katyal’s best judgment as to whether the D.C. bill was constitutional. He instead asked merely whether his own position that the bill is constitutional was so beyond the pale, so beneath the low level of plausible lawyers’ arguments, so legally frivolous, that the Solicitor General’s office, under its traditional commitment to defend any federal law for which any reasonable defense can be offered, wouldn’t be able to defend it in court.

Oh yeah, that’s a much more inappropriate standard than “Would I fight tooth and nail to keep this legal judgment from ever seeing the light of day?”, which was still higher than the bar used by the Bush administration.

This was also priceless:

Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served as principal deputy in OLC from 2001 to 2004. His portfolio did not include national security matters.

You know, I can’t remember the last time I ever saw one of those blurbs describing what the writer is not.  I can only assume that it was an attempt to somehow preserve his credibility and make his argument look less laughable.  Didn’t work.

April 7th, 2009 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Politics,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

April Fools?

Tedisco Point 2

Please tell me this is Tedisco’s idea of a joke, and that he was not actually trying to pre-steal yesterday’s election:

The Dutchess County Clerk’s Office has confirmed to FDL that Tedisco’s people have filed an ex parte motion in order, the effect of which would be to investigate and overturn today’s election results, should the outcome not be to Republicans’ liking.


Beyond the standard practice of seeking to impound machines, determine validity of affidavit ballots, etc., the Tedisco campaign goes for this grand overreach–and does so hours before the polls even close. (I am not a lawyer, but the ones we have here tell me this is not standard operating procedure–this is a desperate play.)


While campaign lawyers often pre-file papers for simple vote protection, Tedisco’s motion goes much, much further. Inside this document (PDF) are several humdingers, including:

On page 6: An order that whenever a poll-watcher challenges a voter that the elections clerks have to make a written record. (Unless or until that order is served at every polling place—and unless or until somebody notices that paragraph—it will be impossible to enforce.)

On Page 9: Plaintiffs seek a restraining order to prevent the certification of Murphy no matter how huge a win. (This paragraph was struck out by the court on the spot.)

I suppose this could be considered enterprising, to set the wheels in motion to challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory before it even occurs (which it currently looks like it has, pending absentee ballots).  It could also be considered incredibly amoral and cynical.

Norm Coleman is the GOP’s new role model.

1 comment April 1st, 2009 at 06:33am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Correlation & Causation

Apparently the American Bar Association has a liberal bias:

The bar association is, after all, a private trade association, not an arm of the government. It takes public and generally liberal positions on all sorts of divisive issues. And studies suggest that candidates nominated by Democratic presidents fare better in the group’s ratings than those nominated by Republicans.

I’m sure that couldn’t possibly be because Republican presidents are more likely to nominate ideological hacks, nooo.

March 30th, 2009 at 10:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Judiciary,Media,Republicans

Same As The Old Boss

This is very, very disappointing.  After all Obama’s happy talk about how he would only use signing statements “with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well founded,” his first signing statement sounds just like one of Dubya’s.

“This provision,” Mr. Obama wrote, “raises constitutional concerns by constraining my choice of particular persons to perform specific command functions in military missions, by conditioning the exercise of my authority as commander in chief on the recommendations of subordinates within the military chain of command, and by constraining my diplomatic negotiating authority.”

He also raised concerns about a section that establishes whistle-blower protections for federal employees who give information to Congress.

“I do not interpret this provision,” he wrote, “to detract from my authority to direct the heads of executive departments to supervise, control and correct employees’ communications with the Congress in cases where such communications would be unlawful or would reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential.”


Mr. Obama called the provisions “impermissible forms of legislative aggrandizement” and declared that while executive-branch officials would notify lawmakers of any reallocation, “spending decisions shall not be treated as dependent on the approval of Congressional committees.”

In other words, “unconstitutional” means “anything that restricts my executive authority.”  Just like his predecessor.  When Obama made his claim about how measured he would be in his use of signing statements, I predicted that Republicans would immediately accuse him of hypocrisy the first time he issued one.  I just didn’t think I’d be agreeing with them.

2 comments March 12th, 2009 at 08:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Wankers

“You Got Your Church In My State!” “You Got Your State In My Church!”

Oh, this is not good:

In one term, the Supreme Court cut back drastically on reproductive freedom, it issued an absurd decision holding that when the President violates the Establishment Clause, there’s nothing you can do about it, and it held that it is unconstitutional for school boards to racially integrate schools (seriously!).   Since that one awful term, however, the Court has stayed relatively quiet on cultural issues.

Looks like that’s about to change, however, the Court just granted cert in Salazar v. Buono.  For folks who are unfamiliar with the case, take a look at the picture of the cross over on the right there.  That cross sits alone on a rock in the middle of a federal land preserve, which is a fairly textbook violation of the Establishment Clause—at least as the law exists right now.

When Justice O’Connor was still on the Court, she was the all-important fifth vote for the notion that government cannot erect whatever monuments to religion it chooses.  Four of her colleagues had no problem with, say, massive displays of the Ten Commandments in the middle of a state courthouse.

Anyone want guess how Justice Alito’s going to vote, now that he has the chance to destroy almost fifty years of precedent holding that government is not in the business of endorsing a state religion?

Ooo!  Ooo!  Pick me!  Pick me!  From November 2005:

[Althouse’s] sole piece of evidence to “prove” that Alito is more liberal than Scalia is their interpretation of the First Amendment’s protections of religion. Scalia wrote the Employment Division v. Smith decision which ruled that “neutral, generally applicable” laws cannot be considered infringements on religious rights.

Ah, but Alito found loopholes that allowed him to rule in favor of Muslim policemen whose religion obligated them to grow beards, and “a Lakota Indian who claimed he derived spiritual powers from two black bears.” This is all very well and good, but does it really prove that he’s not a conservative extremist, or merely that he defers to religion wherever possible? It’s admirable that he would be so accommodating to non-Christians, but it’s not much of a stretch to believe that he was thinking of precedents for future cases where Christian spiritual practices are being infringed. I must admit, it’s hard for me to imagine any law infringing on Christians ever getting passed anywhere, but why take chances?

Yeah, I think we’re screwed.

February 23rd, 2009 at 07:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Religion,Republicans,Wankers

Congressional Republicans Speak Out Against Unlawful Expansions Of Presidential Power For Political Gain!

Better late than never, right?

House Republicans are incensed about the prospect of the Census Bureau director reporting directly to the White House.

A senior White House official said the Obama administration intends to circumvent Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg to assuage black and Hispanic leaders who had raised concerns about the New Hampshire Republican’s commitment to core functions of the department.

But that plan has produced hot-under-the-collar reactions from two leading Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They see it as an effort by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to seize power over the politically delicate issue of counting Americans.

“Any attempt by the Obama administration to circumvent the census process for their political benefit will be met with fierce opposition as this ill-conceived proposal undermines a constitutionally obligated process that speaks to the very heart of our democracy,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the committee.

Issa and North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the subcommittee that oversees census issues, sent a letter to President Obama detailing their concern that such a move might circumvent existing law and be used for partisan gain.

“Requiring the census director to report directly to the White House and placing responsibility for administration of the Bureau outside the Department of Commerce may even violate federal law,” they wrote. “According to Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Bureau is to be administered ‘within, and under the jurisdiction of, the Department of Commerce.’ According to U.S. Code, the Executive Branch is limited to providing support for the Bureau in the form of information and resources.”


“The constitutionally mandated decennial census needs to be fair, accurate and trusted. By circumventing the secretary of Commerce’s oversight of the Census Bureau and handing it directly to a political operative such as Mr. Emanuel, you are severely jeopardizing the fairness and accuracy of the 2010 census,” Issa and McHenry wrote.

Raise your hand if you didn’t see something like this coming a mile away.  The only element of it that I didn’t expect is the fact that they’re protesting a power Obama is trying to add, rather than the exercise of one he inherited.  Which makes it kind of a political gift from Obama.  On the other hand, we wouldn’t really want a Republican administering the census either.  Gee, maybe someone should have thought of this before Obama nominated yet another Republican.

February 5th, 2009 at 10:43pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Wait, Which Country Was He Talking About Again?

Dubya gets right to the heart of the problem in his farewell address:

The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.

I think he might be exaggerating a little bit about conservatives marking unbelievers for murder, but otherwise I think he’s spot on.

January 16th, 2009 at 09:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Racism,Religion,Republicans,Sexism,Teh Gay,War

Epic Perspective Fail

There may be scenarios where strip-searching a 13-year-old girl is an appropriate and proportional response, but I’m pretty sure that suspicion of ibuprofen possession is probably not one of them.

Justice Alito may disagree.

January 16th, 2009 at 06:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Wankers

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