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Monday, July 9, 2007

You have rights -- they just aren't enforceable

In Bush World, the federal court system is fast becoming the Catch 22 system. On Friday an appeals court in Ohio (sigh) ruled that even if Bush's secret, warrantless domestic spying programs are unconstitutional, lawyers and news media folks don't have legal standing to challenge them. The only people who would be eligible to go to court and object to them, according to the Sixth Circuit, are people who can prove that they themselves are being spied on.

Of course, they can't possibly know they're being spied on, because the program is secret. Ta da! There ya go. Any questions?

This is right in line with the Supreme Court's ruling in late June that if the executive branch of the federal government tries to establish a religion in violation of the First Amendment, regular citizens don't have standing to challenge it. Therefore, in effect, it's not clear that anyone can go to court to stop the President from doing it.

It's perfect for the regime of Nasty Dick Cheney, isn't it? Of all the mindscrews that have been applied over the last six and a half years, the "concept" of constitutional rights with no meaningful remedies is likely to be the most memorable.

I wish I were making this stuff up. The religion case is particularly troublesome, because the Supreme Court has held for quite some time now that if Congress tries to establish a religion, average Joes and Janes do have standing in court to try to stop it. But to this Supreme Court, the President is different, and his or her actions don't get the same judicial review that legislative acts do.

After all, as one right-wing commenter on this blog has pointed out, the Bill of Rights says merely that "Congress shall not" do this and that -- it doesn't say anything about the President, the FBI, or the CIA. And although it's been settled law for many decades that the same rules apply to both the legislative and the executive branches, the current crop of judges, mostly appointed by Gipper, Wimp Sr., and Wimp Jr., are themselves judicial wimps, determined to nullify their own jobs and largely neutralize the judicial role in what was once known as our system of checks and balances. Soon after they reverse Roe v. Wade (three years max), they'll be after Marbury v. Madison, which established judicial review under the Constitution of the acts of the other two branches.

You don't like it? Right after these guys get done genuflecting to Pope Benedict, they'll tell you that your only recourse is to vote the rascals out. Don't expect the courts to do anything.

If you want to see what the Bush Court is really about, the signature case of the past month is this one. A suspect was convicted of murder, and a federal judge hearing his case explicitly gave him 17 days to appeal the denial of habeas corpus -- habeas being a centuries-old court procedure, guaranteed by the Constitution, which allows those convicted of crimes to appeal their convictions. The judge explicitly gave the man a 17-day deadline. And he met it, filing an appeal on the 16th day.

But oh, no. The federal statute on appeals in this situation gives you only 14 days, and so even though a federal judge told this person he could appeal until day 17, his appeal couldn't be heard.

So nowadays, when a federal judge explains the law to you, you're supposed to go back to your prison cell and make sure that he or she got it right. If you don't, and the judge is wrong, it doesn't matter what else the judge may have screwed up in your trial -- you stay in jail, or go to your death, I guess, if that's your punishment.

This is justice? It is to the Honorable Clarence Thomas, the Human Middle Finger of George Bush Sr., who's in charge of your civil rights now. He survived his "high-tech lynching," but that doesn't mean he's going to stop your real-life one.

Yes, it is scary. And there's not much that can be done about it. The oldest of the five Supreme Court justices with the hand grenade pins in their teeth are the Two Tonys: Scalia, who just turned 71, and Kennedy, who hits that age in two weeks. They're likely to be around for quite a while longer -- a decade or more -- and by the time they're done, it will be a frighteningly different legal landscape from the one we have now. The civil rights revolution has been on the run since Nixon started remodeling it in the early '70s, and now it's clearly being routed. Guantanamo is next on the High Court's agenda -- I shudder to think what's going to come out of that. Combined with increased technological intrusion into our privacy, the nation is approaching what the parents and teachers of the '60s would have told us was a police state.

What's the answer, then? Hard to say. Obviously, a Democratic President would help -- and one who's good for two terms. At least a couple of the liberal justices on the Supreme Court will no doubt be leaving us over the next eight years, and we can't let this get any worse. Can you imagine what Giuliani (another genuflecter) or Fred Cheney Thompson would do with two appointments to the Court? Or picture a couple of Romney appointees.

Meanwhile, you can also pray that Justice Kennedy comes to his senses, but I doubt that will ever happen now that the Bush Boys have his ear. It's all starting to make sense to him now.

The only realistic comfort at this point is to hope for the pendulum to swing back in 20 or 30 years. Folks my age may not live to see it. But teach your children well. It didn't have to go this way, and nothing's forever.

Comments (14)

With the purge of Ada's in the doj what can be expected. This administration has sullied every part of government and the stains will be there long after I have terminated. Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas lied in every hearing and unless they are convicted of such, will be there for the 20-30 years you mention. Kennedy had the chance to be the mediator and queller of extremism, alas, he has failed and will known as an incompetent flunky.

What a great uplifting post for a Monday morning. I want to kill myself now, thanks a lot.

"Of course, they can't possibly know they're being spied on, because the program is secret."

Jack, I wondered the same thing myself, and I'm glad you brought up this topic. I can't believe The Oregonian article about the Supreme Court ruling didn't address this issue. I'm not sure which "estate" I'm more disgusted with - the media or the Court.

One piece of hope is that the political atmosphere can change radically, reducing the influence of a far-right judiciary.

If the other two branches of federal government somehow fall into progressive hands for the next decade and a half (far-fetched, I know), a lot of good legislation is possible.

This doesn't do much for poor women in states like Kansas, but it's at least a small glimmer of hope.

Impeach, in this order:

Richard Cheney
George W. Bush
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Alberto Gonzales
Anthony Kennedy

Presumably, Gonzales would resign upon the impeachment of one or both of his superiors, but one can never tell with this crowd.

Hey...I can dream, can't I?

Ever since I read this post this morning I've had The Clash's "Know Your Rights" running through my head.

Here's a link to the lyrics, which should make it self explanatory why I have this song running through my head:

And for a decent live performance of the song from back in 1983, we have a you tube clip:

RIP - Joe Strummer

"You don't like it? Right after these guys get done genuflecting to Pope Benedict, they'll tell you that your only recourse is to vote the rascals out. Don't expect the courts to do anything."

Having been around for the 1960 Presidential election and listened to all the talk about whether a Catholic could be elected President.

I've been wondering lately what the anti-Jack Kennedy crowd would think about a Supreme Court with a conservative Catholic majority. Do you think the fact that it's conservative would make the difference?

Greg C

The product of 12 years of Catholic education thank you.

Do you think the fact that it's conservative would make the difference?

I certainly do. For pretty much all of the half century or more that I have been tuned in, these arguments about religious affiliation always come from the political opposition. That doesn't necessarily mean the arguments are invalid. It just means that people are more inclined to be pragmatic than principled. I do think, though, that it is different to have a Catholic majority on the Supreme Court, because of the constitutional protection from politics that the justices have "during good behavior", and because of the RC church's fairly blatant interference in politics and social policy.

Well, I confess I don't get it. I know a lot of folks have this rabid, unreasoning hatred of George Bush and Dick Cheney, but it's pretty incomprehensible. Other than just pure, visceral hatred, I mean.

I was all for cleaning up Afghanistan and getting rid of the Al-Qaeda training camps there. I thought going into Iraq was a stupid idea. Who didn't? Oh, right, that would be Mrs. Billary Clintoon and Mr. "I was for the war before I was against it" John "Reporting For Duty!" Kerry - among many others.

Who fought hard on Bush's side to get an amnesty bill rammed down our throats? Umm...Ted Kennedy.

So I've read and re-read your post here, and still find it incomprehensible. Okay, you hate Bush, and call him stuff like "the Chimp" and so on.

At least, unlike AlGore, Bush's home in Texas is both small in scale and energy-efficient. And while I notice that you support the Breck Girl, what makes you think that a guy who nonchalantly drops a few hundred on a haircut will somehow be better for America?

What, in fact, makes you think that Democrats are somehow going to be better for our country than Republicans? They're mostly stamped from the same mold.

Was America better under Bill "cigar" Clintoon? Oh yeah, he bombed an aspirin factory when the Monica thing started unraveling, and he had a firm offer to take custody of bin Laden and said "no, thanks". Yeah, that's real leadership.

So what have Bush/Cheney done that's setting the country back so far? Oh yeah - they cut taxes for the rich. Sorry, I'm not rich, but I do appreciate the break. Of course, I happen to believe (gasp!) that I can put my money to better use than the government can.

I know, I know - that's absolute heresy. But the fact of the matter is that I don't trust either major party, and certainly no unions, when it comes to matters of money, life, or liberty.

Try another approach. Try thinking of what Bush and Cheney would have to do before you saw them as incompetent, twisted losers. Or think of how mad you were at the people who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Now imagine that Bush and Cheney deliberately misled us into a war that also got that many Americans killed.
Oh, forget it.


Sorry, but the "deliberately misled" thing doesn't work. It's just a subtle twist on the "Bush lied" syndrome. The fact of the matter is that Democrats had access to the same data that Bush/Cheney had, and they voted to fund Iraq.

I hold Democrats and Republicans equally culpable in the invasion of Iraq. As noted previously, I thought it was a really stupid idea. Bush could not have done it without the support of Democrats.

Anybody who believes that things will miraculously change if we just elect another Democrat to the presidency likely also believes that Homer Williams has everyone's best interest in mind.

South Waterfront is a wonderful thing, and all we need to do to set the country right is to elect another Democrat. Oh, and build more fixed-rail. Yeah - that's the ticket!

Did Max even read the original post?

Was going to comment on Max's use of every Limbaugh talking point, but decided it would be a waste of my time. I've been knocking down the SAME points that happen to be repeated verbatim for a few years now.

Anyway, without patting Jack on the back, he articulated what I've been feeling about the recent damage to the SCOTUS: it's not so much that they've wreaked havoc, it's just they've consciously neutered themselves out of their responsibilities. As a result, the General Accounting Office is the only sector in government left (nearly) untouched by partisan hackery. People are people and they will always have their biases... but these were the last bastions of perspective and ethical grounding, for crying out loud. The GAO doesn't have teeth, only facts, so we're SCREWED. No one has legal recourse in this country anymore unless you can afford a battery of attorneys...

The next election is indeed for all the marbles. Although I can't see any of the current GOPers winning it all, neither can many in the Republican party... that's why they're throwing all their money and backhanded support behind Hillary, knowing an 'Anybody but Clinton' mentality is their only hope. Whatever the case, the next two-termer will have vacancies to fill and I hope to God people keep that in mind. Hillary is still better than anyone the Republicans have.

Still... Edwards in '08 y'all.

Jack, you terrify yourself. Ain't none of it needs to stand, and, quite calmly, none of it is going to stand.

One election of one Congress sustaining one wholesale impeachment of incompetent and oath-violating Justices removes them wholesale -- I can count five in violation of their oath, gone in 2009; and continuing to the repeal and redaction of every Administration-signed enactment since 2001, legislative or otherwise, and voila your self-crazed nightmare is vapors. A good idea to check that your candidate for Congress intends to so impeach, repeal, and redact, before you vote for him or her.

Think XXIst Article of Amendment to the Constitution: The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. Done.

So much of getting things done is simply stating in the affirmative what to do. Buying into the idea holding you hypnotized, (from hypo- meaning 'beneath,' or 'under;' and gnosis meaning 'knowledge,' or 'word'), being 'under-knowing,' 'untold;' having that propaganda-framed worldview being your only and filling your total consciousness -- that 'everything is all set this way,' (for 20 or 30 years), that it is 'fait accompli, a done deal,' that your future is only more of your today, that laws and lawmakers cannot be changed wholesale and entire, and even if they could be, powerless you cannot do it or handle it -- not thinking beyond all of that is a total waste of the potential further scope of your consciousness.

Why think at all if you ain't going to use it and are going to restrict your thinking to only using, in mind, your faculty of memory, to store what you are told there is and are told that is all there is? You have a faculty of empathy, and a faculty of estimation, and a faculty of anticipation or extension, and a faculty of judgment or balance. Eat some ginko bilbo or something. It's like STP oil treatment for your mental faculties, the advertisers say.

These war criminals in the Executive and the injust, corrupted incompetents in the Judiciary have NOT established anything, in any permanent or providential sense of 'establishment.'

You say, "I wish I were making this stuff up." Even realizing your sarcastic usage is dramatic exaggeration, rhetorical theatrics, still -- Jack: you are making this stuff up. As long as you believe the charade is substantive, and you recite the litany of it, and as long as you sustain in persisting in it and persist in sustaining it, you are what, in fact, establishes it. And so you are -- you are, the one making this stuff (up).

Versus '(down)'. Down is nothing. Down is where it falls when you see and tolerate none of it. When your thoughts don't hold it up, it falls down. When you tear at it and pierce it and cut it and shred it and rip it and violate it and void it, it falls down. Because it is nothing. (Down) is nothing, all you see was made (up). See nothing. It all falls down.

As for Max, we have to feel sorry for the pathetic people, the Lamebrains and the LIARS, whose sum of information is (with much work) listed in the comments; and sorrier for them the more, that Max is their representative of it. If Max had had any additional information of an individual's own, to connect and buttress the false lies of LIARS Larson or FUXnews, the personal attestment of Max might have imparted some substance or material to the hallucinatory fiction. Max did not add, and gives nothing. The fascist fiction falls down. It is sorriest that the mentally ill fascist-extreme rightists rely on Max as the most coherent representative to carry their ideas and beliefs.

It is sort of like Jesus sending Robertson or Falwell to expound Spirited ideas and beliefs, while they are uninspired.

Or like the Holy See's Opus Dei sect -- of the most refined doxology, sending Scalia or Ashcroft to propound the ideas and beliefs, while they are inhuman zombies and mentally ill; or like Thomas pronouncing Lamebrain and any woman to be man and wife, while Lamebrain is a big fat idiot mouse.

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