Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Emerging Outraged Majority

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

American voters are in a nasty mood. Across the board, Americans feel betrayed by the process, elected officials, and the government. At the very heart of discontent are lies about the war, the lobbying of congress, the fiscal soundness of the nation, the state of "freedom" itself.

Liberal Democrats —especially the growing grass roots anti-war movement —feel betrayed by Democrats whose only position vis a vis the GOP seems to be of the form "...but we could have fought the war better than Bush!" That's cold comfort to those who believe the war was not only wrong but premised upon a pack of GOP lies. It's a poke in the eye to progressives who believe American foreign policy is now dictated by Dick Cheney and Halliburton. Bush's policies are seemingly un-opposed though they seem to have made terrorism worse and Americans less safe.

GOP politicians, however, are even less well off. E. J. Dionne, writing in the Washington Post, has written a brief but accurate history of how the GOP has been hijacked by the increasingly extremist right wing, how "moderate Republicans" have either left the party or been marginalized, how Bush's huge budget deficits point up the hypocrisy of GOP "conservatism".

I am unhappy with Democratic triangulation of the center. I am less interested in out-maneuvering the GOP than in defeating them straight-up on issue, on points, on substance. But I suspect that I am less disenchanted with Democrats than GOPPERS with the GOP. Can you imagine how upset I might be if I were a GOPPER, favoring responsible government, confronted with Reagan/Bush deficits of truly historic proportions? Similarly, some GOP types were staunch civil libertarians. Where are they to go now that Bush has assumed dictatorial powers? Some old time Republicans disdained empire to the point of isolationism. What are they to do now that Bush has embarked upon world conquest for the benefit of Halliburton and handful of oil cronies? Many Republicans, like Nelson Rockefeller, for example, could have been described as "moderate" or even "liberal". What are they to do now that Bush has radicalized the GOP?

A fundamental re-alignment of American politics is underway. Moderate and liberal Republicans —all but extinct —have no choice but to make common cause with the Democratic party. This seems to be a mirror image of an earlier re-alignment in which "conservative" Democrats became Republicans. There were dramatic individual examples of that. Former Texas Governor John Connally's joining the GOP is one. The most sweeping re-alignment, however, was Nixon's "southern strategy" which resulted in a solid "red" south. Admittedly, Nixon was helped out by LBJ who virtually ceded the south when he signed the voting rights act. What does that say of the south?

Major developments signaling a major re-alignment are bad news for the GOP. A recent Gallup poll indicates more Americans now identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans —a shift that may give Democrats the edge they need in November. And from the same poll, we learn that independents give Democrats the advantage, though Democrats had been neck and neck with the GOP since the second quarter of 2005.

Elsewhere there is evidence that the GOP is running scared while "...on the run". GOP candidates are on the defensive, forced to decide how closely they wish to identify with Bush who shows no sign of reversing his plunge in the polls. Problematic for the GOP is the party's conflicting, if not hypocritical, positions on the out-of-control federal debt and deficit and the Bush administration's inept response to Katrina. Overriding everything else, however, is Bush's tar baby —the war on Iraq! It's a tar baby that has permanently stuck itself to whatever legacy Bush might wish to leave behind. It is nothing if not a quagmire and will ultimately prove to be a war crime of unimaginable proportions! Until recently, Bush continued to lead Democrats on the issue of "terrorism". Now, when it has become clear to all but a few diehards that the war against Iraq has made terrorism worse, Bush has lost even that advantage.

A TIME poll is stunning: 3 in 5 Americans now say the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Given a choice, a "generic" Democrat beats "generic" Republicans in races for Congress by a margin of almost 10%. What is clearly an anti-Republican wave cannot be good for the GOP's longer term prospects. Stuart Rothenberg, of the Rothenberg Political Report is quoted thus: "The only question is how high, how big, how much force it will have. I think it will be considerable."

If there is a big picture, Kevin Phillips can always be counted on to get a handle on it. His latest book —American Theocracy —makes the analogy to California which recalled Gray Davis.
Still, with impeachment losing credibility as a constitutional remedy, the possibility of having an "incompetent" president with a 35% job approval rating in office for almost three more years represents enough of a threat to an unhappy and beleaguered United States that a wide-ranging debate is in order.
—Kevin Phillips, Time to Recall Bush?
In American Theocracy, Phillips zeros in on what he calls " petro-politics" which he credits with having sparked the emergence of "the new national party politics of oil".
Phillips is the kind of tough-minded realist who doesn't even bother to feign shock at the idea that our foreign policy has a bottom line. When Dick Cheney said in 1999 that ''by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day," certain geopolitical consequences followed. Why pretend otherwise?
Axis of ills:An indictment of recent Republican policies, domestic and foreign, Scott McLemee
But this is not a real political movement. It is, rather, the Bush administration outsourcing the conquest of the world to Halliburton. The Roman Empire had similarly, outsourced to previously conquered tribes the defense of Rome. Bushco, however, has outsourced the seizure of world oil supplies to Halliburton even as Halliburton seems to have hijacked the armed forces of the United States to do its dirty work.

Here's the truly tragic aspect of the Bush's coup d'etat: the Democrats —time and again —have simply failed to oppose, have failed to put forward an alternative to Bush's corporate rule of America, the GOP's concerted, deliberate, and well-organized subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law:
Unfortunately, the Democrats’ “Real Security” plan , released yesterday, falls short of providing a sharp alternative to Republican policies. Whether one looks at the primary document, a 10-page brochure, or the 123 pages of back-up material, what emerges is not a plan, but a mixture of rhetoric and goals that is short on specifics and fails to set clear priorities. Its vagueness no doubt derives from the consensus nature of the document. The current Democratic Party is a fractured mosaic of factions with divergent positions on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to how best to address Iran’s nascent nuclear enrichment program. Coming up with a common platform that takes a clear stand on anything is no small task.
Democrats' Tough Talk, William D. Hartung
Kevin Phillips has summed up more in fewer words than most books and articles to date on the origins of Bush's power, the nature of his constituency, and the real reasons for the the so-called "war on terrorism". In even fewer words: the war on terrorism is not about 911, Bin Laden, or Saddam; it's about OIL! Thus, Phillips exposes the lies told by Bush on the road to theocracy:

How the GOP Became God's Own Party

By Kevin Phillips
Sunday, April 2, 2006; B03
Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.
We have had small-scale theocracies in North America before -- in Puritan New England and later in Mormon Utah. Today, a leading power such as the United States approaches theocracy when it meets the conditions currently on display: an elected leader who believes himself to speak for the Almighty, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers, the certainty of many Republican voters that government should be guided by religion and, on top of it all, a White House that adopts agendas seemingly animated by biblical worldviews.
Indeed, there is a potent change taking place in this country's domestic and foreign policy, driven by religion's new political prowess and its role in projecting military power in the Mideast.
The United States has organized much of its military posture since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks around the protection of oil fields, pipelines and sea lanes. But U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East has another dimension. In addition to its concerns with oil and terrorism, the White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the Holy Lands are a battleground of Christian destiny. Both pursuits -- oil and biblical expectations -- require a dissimulation in Washington that undercuts the U.S. tradition of commitment to the role of an informed electorate.
Because the United States is beginning to run out of its own oil sources, a military solution to an energy crisis is hardly lunacy. Neither Caesar nor Napoleon would have flinched. What Caesar and Napoleon did not face, but less able American presidents do, is that bungled overseas military embroilments could also boomerang economically. The United States, some $4 trillion in hock internationally, has become the world's leading debtor, increasingly nagged by worry that some nations will sell dollars in their reserves and switch their holdings to rival currencies. Washington prints bonds and dollar-green IOUs, which European and Asian bankers accumulate until for some reason they lose patience. This is the debt Achilles' heel, which stands alongside the oil Achilles' heel. ...

Impeaching Bush is just the start

By Dennis Fox/ Gadflying,Thursday, March 30, 2006"

Town Meeting urges our representative in Congress to introduce and/or support a resolution impeaching President George W. Bush." That's the warrant article Brookline Town Meeting will probably approve in May. It's good, but it's not enough. ...

Impeachment: Too Easy

Impeaching the president is the remedy when Congress can't control him. This Congress hasn't even tried. Since talk of impeachment is in the air, it seems incumbent on all vocal critics of the president to ...

US invasions and genocides: Dutch soldiers refuse

Indymedia Argentina
"Two thirds feel politicians in The Hague have handled the issue badly and only 4 (FOUR) percent of the respondents think the performance of the (cowardly, malignant, brain- and spineless) MP's and 'ministers' on the issue has been good.". ...
From an excellent blog:

It is the victors who write History

And in so doing, they will always gloss-over their own excesses or omit them altogether - but the awareness of guilt endures notwithstanding, and is passed on subliminally to subsequent generations.

In this context, a friend of mine on a discussion board brought an important article to my attention, regarding war crimes and victors and abuses.
An excerpt:
No one knows how many civilians have died violently in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003. The most careful assessment, by the website Iraq Body Count, estimates at least 36,000. The true figure could be three times higher. The uncertainty is explained by General Tommy Franks' now-notorious remark, "We don't do body counts."

Three interesting facts nevertheless help shape a sense of the possibilities. One is that the US forces insist that they use precision techniques to minimise "collateral damage". The second is that the coalition recently and controversially admitted using phosphorus weapons in its attack on Falluja. The third is that one of the US marine air wings operating in Iraq announced in a press release in November 2005 that since the invasion began it had dropped more than half a million tons of explosives on Iraq.
The felt inconsistency between the first fact and the other two reminds one that ever since the deliberate mass bombing of civilians in the second world war, and as a direct response to it, the international community has outlawed the practice. It first tried to do so in the fourth Geneva convention of 1949, but the UK and the US would not agree, since to do so would have been an admission of guilt for their systematic "area bombing" of German and Japanese civilians. ...
An update: Bush has been frightened by Peace Activists in Texas. They've have frigtened him so that he won't sbe spending Easter in Texas.

Bush cutting back visits to Crawford ranch amid protests, paper to report

RAW STORY, Published: Sunday April 2, 2006

Since last summer President Bush's visits to Crawford, Texas have been "less visible," which some experts link to demonstrations of antiwar protesters held nearby his ranch, according to an article set for the Waco Tribune-Herald in Monday editions.
According to the Tribune-Herald, the police chief of Waco has said President Bush will not be celebrating Easter there with his family, as he has done in the past. ...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Founding Fathers' Revenge: How the People Can Fire George W. Bush

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

It's time to fire Bush. There is a way that the people of the United States can fire Bush short of a Constitutional Amendment implementing a recall. And it beats waiting around for the actions of a Congress which enjoys even lower ratings than Bush. The remedy is "revolutionary" —but the best part is that it's entirely constitutional and there is absolutely nothing —within the law —that Bush can do about it. He can but wait for the verdict and pack his bags when he gets it. The "revolutionary" remedy had been foreseen by the founders. It is a new National Convention as described in Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution.

Why this extraordinary measure?

Congress has proven that it lacks the will to impeach though Bush's support continues to collapse. Bush himself expects that it will be left to a successor to clean up the mess he's made in Iraq. If that's the case, then it's better that a successor get started sooner than later. It is ironic that Bush has openly defended his overt usurpation of dictatorial powers even as he presides over the historic collapse of his popular support. How logical is that?
According to, which tracks Bush’s approval ratings in all 50 states, Bush’s support in the March readings plunged to double-digit net negative numbers even in some staunchly Republican states: -12% in South Carolina, -17% in Indiana, -18% in Virginia, and -19% in Tennessee. In Bush’s home state of Texas, public disapproval topped approval by 14 percentage points.

—Sam Parry, State after State Repudiates Bush

In November, Ted Rall made a compelling case for a national recall of Bush and last week there was some buzz about how a national recall could be effected. Now former Nixon staffer and distinguished author Kevin Phillips (Wealth and Democracy) makes the analogy to California which recalled Gray Davis.
Still, with impeachment losing credibility as a constitutional remedy, the possibility of having an "incompetent" president with a 35% job approval rating in office for almost three more years represents enough of a threat to an unhappy and beleaguered United States that a wide-ranging debate is in order.

—Kevin Phillips, Time to Recall Bush?

Bush's edge is now within the "margin of error” in four of the so-called "red states". His solid support may be down to only three states. That means that since 2004, Bush has lost his margins of from +20% to +46% in those states. Truly historic.

That Bush is losing support state by state makes the "revolutionary" concept of a new National Convention practical. It is the state legislatures that can make a new national convention happen whether or not Bush supports it. He won't support it and it won't matter.

According to Article 5 of the Constitution, two thirds of the state legislatures may petition Congress to convene a national convention.
The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this constitution, or on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which , in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided, that no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808, shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

U.S. Constitution, Article 5

In November, Ted Rall made a compelling case for a national recall. At the time, Rall quoted USA today:
“When a president falls below 40 percent approval in public opinion polls–as President Bush has done twice in the past two months–it’s usually a sign of serious political danger.” —Richard Benedetto, USA Today.
Now Bush's numbers are even worse and more significantly it is not the overall numbers that matter. It's the states! Getting the support of two thirds of the state houses is within reach of a well organized popular movement. Being a creation of the various states, a new national convention is completely outside the Washington bureaucracy. It would be beyond the reach of Bush to intimidate or threaten.

What could a national convention do? A new national convention would have all the powers of the original Philadelphia Convention. According to the late Sen. Sam Irvin of Watergate Committee fame, it could rewrite the Constitution if it wanted to. But a prudent convention need only build upon the framers intentions even though Bush is widely quoted as having said:
The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!

—George W. Bush

A new convention would put teeth into the Constitution making it clear and un-nuanced so that Bush might understand that it is the supreme law of the land, a lesson he might have skipped at Yale. A lesson apparently not high on the Skull and Bones list of activities.

A new national convention could literally write George W. Bush out of a job; it could, if it wanted to, rewrite the job description, change the title from "President" to something else and set the date for a direct election of the new executive.

It could write strict language binding the new executive to the laws of the land; it could establish severe penalties for violations of the law. Impeachment may not even be necessary. The new national convention could literally form a new government —a velvet revolution. And there is absolutely nothing that Bush could do to stop it unless he is willing to order the U. S. Army to attack it. I don't think even Bush would do that.

A new national convention could also set a national standard for the direct popular election of the "executive", abolishing the antiquated Electoral College and requiring paper trails at every precinct in the nation. A new national convention could make unlawful Presidential "signing statements". A new national convention could eliminate completely the corporate sponsorship of all politicians.

A new national convention could put new teeth into the Bill of Rights and could prescribe criminal penalties for egregious violations. A new national convention could eschew the international lawlessness of the Bush regime, withdraw us from Iraq, re-affirm Due Process of Law and the rule of law, and establish new standards of accountability for elected officials and bureaucrats.

A new national convention could end the "imperial presidency" by ending "empire". A new national convention could put the Military/Industrial complex out of business by slashing its budget to Constitutional restraints. A new national convention could establish the standards by which this might be achieved. A new national convention could require the CIA to make public and submit to an oversight committee a line item budget. At present, the CIA budget is a big secret.

A new national convention could re-affirm what Thomas Jefferson called the "wall of separation" between church and state. A new national convention could give this nation a "rebirth of freedom". A new national convention might restore the republic, something the emperor Augustus never got around to doing and something that the emperor Bush has never intended to do.

Meanwhile, Bush continues to thumb his nose at the Constitution and Congress aids and abets.
We need new National Convention —even if Congress should wake up and impeach. This has gotten serious folks and, if any shred of American Democracy is to remains, we must act. We need a NEW government.

Bush chooses to ignore Constitution


The U.S. Constitution — which these days a lot of Americans sleep with under their pillows — is fairly direct about the relationship between the president and the laws.

"He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," it says. There's nothing in there about "if he thinks they're a good idea."

You wonder whether President Bush has ever read that part.

You'd think he has, because that requirement comes right between two duties the president probably finds more congenial: "He shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers" and "shall commission all the officers of the United States." But sometimes you wonder just how deep his constitutional reading has gone.


Last month, in a White House photo opportunity, the president signed the renewal of the Patriot Act after a year of legislative fights about expanded powers the act gave the government. After negotiating and rewriting, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., proudly claimed to have added significant limits, including a requirement that the administration regularly report to congressional committees about its use of the new powers.

Signing the bill, the president called it "a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people."

Which didn't mean that he thought the legislation was binding on him.

As the Boston Globe reported last week, after reporters left, the White House issued a statement declaring that the president would ignore the notification requirements if he decided they would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

So, after a year of congressmen debating what kind of law they should pass, Bush reminds them — as he did after he failed to stop Congress from banning the use of torture on prisoners, as he does by ignoring the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court when ordering wiretaps — that, after all, the laws don't apply to him. ...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Scalia's Got Some 'Splainin' to Do; He's Thinking Backward Again!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Says "Enemy Combatants" have no legal rights; Scalia is wrong!

Scalia told an audience at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland that the Constitution does not protect foreigners held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And then he called European criticism of Bush "hypocritical".

Typically, Scalia's remarks are shot-through with circular fallacies and inconsistencies and —quite possibly —deliberate distortions. Due Process of Law is not limited to "citizens" of the United States as Scalia would have you believe. Moreover, denial of "Due Process" violates Nuremberg and Geneva —treaties to which the United States is bound. In any case, "Enemy combatant" is a term used arbitrarily by Bush; it is, conveniently for Bush, whatever Bush says it is. At last, the right of citizens to defend a homeland against the invasion of an aggressor nation is a settled principle of International Law. Scalia is wrong!

The term "enemy combatant" may or may not not apply to any one currently held in Guantanamo. The issue is Scalia's assumptive premise. If followed to its logical conclusion, we will never know the truth about how many "enemy combatants" —if any —are held at Guantanamo. The Bush/Scalia rationale seems conveniently designed to hide the truth. Denying Due Process to detainees is a sure way to accomplish just that. Taken to its logical conclusion, Scalia's doctrine gives to Bush the power to define American citizens as terrorist. Our rights under the Bill of Rights are thus gone forever.

According to the Washington Post, Scalia's comments came just weeks before the justices are to take up an appeal from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. The court will hear arguments Monday on Salim Ahmed Hamdan's assertion that President Bush overstepped his constitutional authority when he ordered a military trial for the former driver of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It would appear that Scalia has already made up his mind. The case will merely go through the motions.

Scalia's prejudice is revealed before the case can be heard. But that is hardly surprising. When the high court ruled two years ago that detainees could use U.S. courts to challenge their detention, Scalia disagreed. One wonders if he now has support he can count on from Roberts and Scalito.

"War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Newsweek quoted Scalia as saying. "Give me a break."
Give ME a break! Scalia habitually thinks backward —from his prejudice to a convenient rationalization, from conclusions already drawn to convenient premises. It was Scalia who said one of the most absurd things ever coughed up by a judge. Continuing the recount (in Florida), he said, would be harmful to George Bush. Excuse me! The one who gets the fewer number of votes is supposed to lose the election. But if you conclude that neither Bush nor Scalia have any interest in defending either Democracy or the Constitution it all makes sense.
The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!

—George W. Bush

Scalia's dissent in the Rasul v. Bush case in 2004 said:
"The consequence of this holding, as applied to aliens outside the country, is breathtaking. It permits an alien captured in a foreign theater of active combat to bring a petition against the secretary of defense. . . . Each detainee (at Guantanamo) undoubtedly has complaints -- real or contrived -- about those terms and circumstances. . . . From this point forward, federal courts will entertain petitions from these prisoners, and others like them around the world, challenging actions and events far away, and forcing the courts to oversee one aspect of the executive's conduct of a foreign war."
Just a fusillade of words! What does Scalia have against learning the truth? Why would he prefer to remain ignorant of who the "enemy combatants" truly are based upon fact and evidence? Clearly —the summary injustice of rounding up people and holding them incommunicado, in secret, interminably, without access to attorney, without charges, without right of counsel, is not a recipe likely to win the hearts and minds of a people. Clearly —the Bush/Scalia formula has made terrorism worse and the world a much more dangerous place.

An audience member in Switzerland asked our prejudiced judge about whether Guantanamo Bay detainees have protection under the Geneva or human rights conventions. According to Newsweek, Scalia replied:
If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy,
Well, Scalia, I am addressing the following questions directly to you should you chance upon this blog: if we are, in fact, fighting a war —as Bush has told us we are —then how would you explain the capture of non-U.S. citizens on anything other than a battlefield? If a citizen of a country that we have illegally invaded shoots back at us, does that not make it a "battlefield" by definition? If a foreign army invaded the United States would not citizens have the right to shoot back at them? What if that foreign power lied about its reasons for invading us? At last, if the person in question is truly an "enemy combatant" would that not make a "battlefield" of the area in which the person in question is doing battle? At last —have we not made of all of Iraq a "battlefield" by invading that sovereign nation upon a pack of black-hearted, malicious, deliberate lies?

And now some questions for anyone who might chance upon this blog: doesn't it seem to you that Scalia does a lot "politicking" for someone who has an income for life? Doesn't it seem to you that Scalia does a lot of "campaigning" on behalf of partisan causes even as he would have you believe that he is an impartial arbiter of justice?

Related updates:

US has ``Black'' torture chamber in Iraq

President's serial hypocrisy revealed again

News today in the New York Times:

[An] elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.
George W. Bush has been naked for years on these atrocities, preaching serial hypocrisy on torture with extraordinary balls, since he claimed back in 2003 that Iraq under his fatherly love would be ``free of assassins, and torturers, and secret police'' and that -- like he claimed three years ago this week -- that Iraqis no longer would have to fear the tyrant Saddam's ``torture chambers and rape rooms''. Seems those same torture chambers have instead been built up and enhanced, continuing to be scenes of torture under Bush to this day, two years after the Abu Ghraib story broke.

Deep Blade has covered serial hypocrisy on torture and rape in Iraq for years now. See entries here, here, and here among other places. A couple of years ago, William Saletan published a timeline called Rape Rooms: A Chronology What Bush said as the Iraq prison scandal unfolded -- damning indictments.

These are war crimes, for which Bush as Commander-in-Chief is ultimately responsible.

Scalia Unplugged

This Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. At issue is whether a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay is entitled to be tried by a civilian court, and whether the Geneva Conventions apply. New revelations reported by Newsweek cast some doubt on whether Justice Antonin Scalia will be sitting on the high court when opening arguments are heard. While speaking at an overseas conference on March 8, Scalia addressed the very issues the court will consider this week, asserting that the Constitution does not protect foreigners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (To watch Scalia's lecture, click here.) In a case involving the pledge of allegiance, Scalia did recuse himself because he had made comments prior to the case that left a reasonable doubt about his impartiality.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: The Bush administration has maintained that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and has established special military commissions to try these detainees without fundamental due process protections required by American and international law. Hamdan's lawyers, on the other hand, say their client and other detainees at Guantánamo are covered by the Constitution and should be afforded basic due process rights. Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the U.S. government to abolish the special military commissions because it contends the commissions breach fundamental standards for fair trial. Solicitor General Paul Clement, using arguments similar to those involved in the warrantless wiretapping issue, will argue that President Bush has the authority to subject captured enemy combatants to trial by military commissions through his inherent commander-in-chief powers under the Constitution and through Congress's passage of the 9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force. Thus, the Hamdan case "will test the scope of presidential power in the war on terror. It may clarify how detained al Qaeda suspects are treated by the US." Also, it will address where the balance of power falls in terrorism cases related to national security.

SCALIA REVEALS HIS BIAS: In his lecture to an audience at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Scalia adamantly declared that the Constitution does not protect foreign enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay. "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," he said. "Give me a break." Scalia's understanding of the legal rights of prisoners flies in the face of one of the Supreme Court's own rulings. In Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court specifically stated that allegations by detainees who have been detained without access to counsel and without being charged of any wrongdoing "unquestionably describe 'custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'" There is reason to believe, given his comments, that Scalia would not give due regard this prior holding of the Court.

COMMENTS WERE RELEVANT TO THE CASE: Challenged on his beliefs about whether the Gitmo detainees have protections under the Geneva or human rights conventions, Scalia told the Swiss audience: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy." The comments are particularly relevant to the case at hand because, according to Hamdan's brief, he was "apprehended on the field of battle in a war between the United States and the government of Afghanistan." In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Scalia wasn't nearly as dismissive of detainee's rights. In that case, he showed disdain for the creation of an alternative process of detention. And, of all the justices on the Court, he took the most restrictive view of Executive power of detention, arguing that Hamdi must be tried under criminal law unless Congress suspended the right to habeas corpus.

GROUNDS FOR RECUSAL: According to Father Robert Drinan, a professor of judicial ethics at the Georgetown University Law Center, the standard for recusal is that a justice "should remove himself when there is a reasonable doubt of his impartiality." Drinan added Scalia's most recent comments in relation to the Hamdan case "should logically be a reason for his recusal." Other legal pundits have suggested that Scalia may not need to recuse himself because he did not specifically refer to the Hamdan case in his comments. But in fact, the statute governing inappropriate judicial speech states that a justice "shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

SCALIA'S STANDARD: Scalia previously recused himself from the Court's decision in Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow, a case concerning whether the pledge of allegiance should have been banned from public schools due to its use of the words "under God." Prior to the Court's acceptance of the case, Scalia had remarked publicly that removing references to God would be "contrary to our whole tradition," and he suggested that courts did not have a role to play in changing the pledge of allegiance. Scalia's comments were not specific to the Newdow case, but rather, were related to the legal issue at hand, a noteworthy parallel to Scalia's most recent remarks on detainee's rights. Scalia explained he had, on the basis of "established principles and practices...said or done something" that required recusal. In another famous incident, Scalia decided not to recuse himself from a case involving his friend, Vice President Cheney. Scalia argued, "Since I do not believe my impartiality can reasonably be questioned, I do not think it would be proper for me to recuse." He argued he would recuse when, "on the basis of established principles and practices, I have said or done something which requires this course." That case did not involve allegations that Scalia had made pre-determined judgments on the legal issues at hand. Though a request for recusal can be submitted by one of parties to the Hamdan case, it is ultimately up to Scalia to determine for himself whether or not he will recuse. Should Scalia decide to recuse himself, it would leave the Court with seven justices to rule in Hamdan. (Chief Justice John Roberts has already recused himself from the case because he participated in a ruling on the case when he sat on the federal appeals court.)
An update:

Supreme Court hears challenge to military tribunals


In a key test of President Bush's war powers, the Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether the Pentagon's plan to try Osama bin Laden's ex-driver before a special military commission violates international law and the U.S. Constitution.

Neal Katyal, the attorney for Salim Hamdan, argued that the Pentagon had concocted a charge - conspiracy - that isn't a war crime, had failed to grant Hamdan certain Geneva Conventions rights, such as prisoner-of-war status, and fell short of standards that Congress has set for how the United States must conduct either military or civilian justice.

"This is a military commission that is literally unbounded by the laws, Constitution and treaties of the United States," he told the court. ...

GOP Fraud, Lies, and Certitude: Sources and Affects

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The 14th-century philosopher William of Occam said Multiplicity ought not to be posited without necessity. In other words, the best hypothesis is the one with the fewest number of unproven assumptions. Simple folk complicate Occam in the name of 'simplification'. Occam did not say that the 'simplest' explanation is the best, nor did he say that the simplest explanation is always true.

The key to Occam is the phrase: "...the fewest number of unproven assumptions". So called 'simple explanations' which assume as 'fact' propositions for which there is no evidence do violence to Occam's simple dictum: multiplicity ought not to be posited without necessity.

Occam's razor is problematic for the conservative mentality accustomed to thinking in terms of absolute truths —a world of black or white, a world of you are either for us or against us, a world of if you are liberal you are a traitor! This mentality will discount a 'proposition' if conflicts with a pre-conceived notion, of one for which there is neither proof nor evidence. The GOP inclined, for example, will discount empirical evidence if it conflicts with cherished ideology. In other centuries, this 'top down' mentality burned witches, disemboweled heretics, and, more recently, in Kansas, forbids the teaching of biological science.

In advance of his time, Occam introduced a measure of probability into the very concept of truth i.e., the simplest solution is most probably correct.

Occam presaged Heisenberg's uncertainty principle by some 500 years or so. Heisenberg posited that either the position or the velocity of a sub-atomic particle may be known with certainty —but not both at the same instant. If one value is known, the other is only a probability. If the velocity is known precisely then the location may be expressed only as a probability inversely proportional to the degree to which the location is known.

More recently, Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem strikes at the very heart of Russell and Whitehead's grounding of mathematics in pure logic. Gödel proved that in any formal system —consisting of a finite set of axioms and the meta-language in which the rules for inference are set —there will always be at least one true theorem that is not derivable by inference.

Both developments harken back to Occam. Truth is always fuzzy but common-sense has always been the enemy of bigotry, moral certitude, propaganda and state-sponsored lies. That's because liars and moral absolutists have something in common: God and truth is always on their side. Or so they would have you believe.

I would like to be as certain of one thing as Bush and Bushies are of all things. How is it possible that Bush and the GOP are so absolutely correct about all things as Bush would have you believe? The simplest and best explanation is simply: they are not! They know nothing. And what is known they lie about. Global warming is just such an issue. Bushies must surely know the truth of it but lie about it in order to protect a robber baron constituency of corporate sponsors.

The falsehoods of the Bush administration can be classified as:
  • Deliberate, planned campaigns of lies, falsehoods and propaganda!
  • Incompetent mistakes!
The war in Iraq is both. Colin Powell's infamous presentation to the United Nations was clearly a well-planned and orchestrated gestalt of deliberate lies based upon plagiarized student papers, exaggerations in which the Bush administration ignored evidence to the contrary, 20 old black and white satellite photos. The consequences have not yet dawned upon the American public and, indeed, even our elected officials.

Let's try to make clear the significance of this series of lies. If Bush deliberately misled the American people and the world in order to justify his attack and invasion of Iraq, then the war, itself, is and continues to be, a crime against the peace. Its continuation is but a series of individual crimes against humanity. As such, it violates the Nuremberg Principles that the United States had insisted upon at the end of World War II. Violations of Nuremberg are criminal offenses in the United States, prohibited specifically by U.S. Codes, Section 2441.
(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

U.S Codes; Section 2441

Bush's order to attack —whatever Congressional authorization he may claim —violates both Nuremberg and U.S. Codes. Moreover, if Bush lied to the American people and to the world, he lied also to Congress. Whatever was passed by Congress is, therefore, null and void by virtue of Bush's deliberate fraud, itself a deliberate subversion of the Constitution. As such, it is most certainly high treason.

Sadly, the War against the people of Iraq is not the only fraud that Bush has perpetrated upon the world and the American people. A short list includes Global warming —about which the GOP and the oil industry waged a 15 year long campaign of lies and misinformation. Other lies, frauds, and hoaxes include the tax cut; faith-based initiatives; the unilateral and quite possibly illegal abrogation of Kyoto; "no child left behind"; his attack on Social Security; his illegal, unconstitutional widespread domestic wiretapping program; the Bush crack down on American civil liberties; his having arrogated unto himself the powers of judge, jury, and legislature.

All are based on lies!

All are illegal!

All make up the gestalt of frauds that ARE the Bush administration!

All make this administration the very worst in American history.

All make this "President" a clear and present danger to America and to the world.

An update:

Bush lies - he wanted war

For a long time, it seemed that I was the only blue-state person who did not think George Bush lied about how we came to invade Iraq. Then, last week, indomitable journalist Helen Thomas asked the President why he wanted "to go to war" from the moment he "stepped into the White House," and the President said, "You know, I didn't want war." With that, the last blue-state skeptic folded.

I would not go so far as to say that Bush wanted war from Day One in the White House, but there is plenty of evidence he had Saddam on his mind and in his sights from the very moment he got the news of the 9/11 attacks.

Richard Clarke, formerly the White House's chief anti-terrorism official, writes in his book "Against All Enemies" that within a day Bush was inquiring if Saddam might have had a hand in terrorist attacks. When told no, the President said testily, "Look into Iraq, Saddam."

Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack" says that not only was Bush fixated on Iraq, but by Thanksgiving of 2001, he had told Donald Rumsfeld to prepare a plan to invade that country, but not to tell anyone. Rumsfeld said he would eventually have to take CIA director George Tenet into his confidence. "Fine," Woodward quotes Bush as saying, "but not now." ...

When will Bush's lies be punished?

Mar. 27, 2006 12:00 AM

According to NBC news, the United States paid a six-figure salary to the Iranian foreign minister to keep us briefed on the situation in Baghdad.

Moreover, it was reported that he told the United States well before our invasion that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which turned out to be true.

If this is so - and it would be amazing for NBC to report such news without factual support - Congress must immediately begin impeachment proceedings.

For the president of the United States to have had prior knowledge of the lies he was telling us and still go to war would be treason of the highest order.

When will the last of his lies be revealed?

- Don McGuire, Glendale