Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bollocks…That Is What This Bill Is

Late today the Senate gave the go ahead to President Bush’s detainee bill by a vote of 65-34. Here is what 609 law professors wrote in a letter to Congress concerning the legislation that President Bush will, in all likelihood, be signing on Friday in a grand we are tougher on terrorism then they are ceremony:

"Taken together, the bill’s provisions rewrite American law to evade the fundamental principles of separation of powers, due process, habeas corpus, fair trials, and the rule of law, principles that, together, prohibit state-sanctioned violence. If there is any fixed point in the historical understandings of constitutional freedom that help to define us as a people, it is that no one may be picked up and locked up by the American state in secret or at an unknown location, or without opportunity to petition an independent court for inspection of the lawfulness of the lockup and of the treatment handed out by the state to the person locked up, under legal standards from time to time defined by Congress. This core principle should apply with full force to all detentions by the American state, regardless of the citizenship of detainees."

Sen. Dayton Needs to Stand Up and Lead The Spineless Democrats!

Yesterday the House approved the Bush administration supported Detainee Bill which sets standards for prosecuting alleged “unlawful enemy combatants”. Debate began on this topic back in June after the Supreme Court struck down the military commissions Bush had established to try people suspected of being members of al-Qaeda.

The main problem with the bill that was passed by the House and the bill currently being debated in the Senate is that these bills miss the point, that being that both versions strip away the fundamental right to habeas corpus, the right to challenge your detention in a court of law.

The bill also does not clearly define the term “unlawful enemy combatant” and therefore under the language of the bill any U.S. citizen could have their right to habeas corpus stripped from them so long as the executive branch labels you an “unlawful enemy combatant”. Here is what the bill states:

"(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(c) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien detained by the United States who --
(A) is currently in United States custody; and
(B) has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination." (p. 82)"

However Sen. Specter and Sen. Levin have introduced an amendment to the Senate version of the bill which would grant habeas corpus rights to detainees.

If the Specter-Levin Amendment is not included in the Senate version of this bill then Democrats must stand up and stop this bill through any means necessary.

The problem is, as the Congressional Quarterly reported yesterday, that Democrats are not planning any organized effort to filibuster the controversial military commissions and detainee treatment bill even though many do not agree with some of the specifics in the legislation. Democratic aides say they did not want to give Republicans an opportunity to paint them into a corner ahead of the November elections. One senior Democratic aide said “We’re going to do what we can to limit the amount of daylight between us and them on national security issues in order to neutralize this as a political issue.”

I find the argument that is being made by Democrats to be completely spineless and yet ironic. For years now the Democrats have been making the argument that Republicans are playing politics concerning matters of our national security and constitutional rights, yet when the time comes for them to finally stand up and protect one of America’s most basic constitutional freedoms they are refusing to do so because it is an election year. It basically just demonstrates exactly what is wrong with our two party political system, that being that neither party cares about doing what is right, they only care about maintaining power or gaining more power, and frankly it is pathetic.

I am making the argument that a filibuster is completely necessary, and the perfect person to do so would be Sen. Dayton. He is not seeking a second term and has no need to worry about any political repercussions for doing so. But alas I have almost as little faith in Dayton’s ability to stand up for what is right as I have faith in Senate Democrats actually growing a spine.

In the end I am sure this bill will pass and everyone will get back to campaigning, because getting elected or reelected is much more important then protecting basic American ideals of justice and fairness.

I think a recent editorial in the New York Times summarized the Democrat’s response perfectly: "Americans of the future won't remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration. They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gentlemen: Beware of Mute Virgins

When scrutinizing a potential mate, be sure you figure out his or her disposition before you decide to marry. Many of the "best govern'd men," writes John Milton in his famous Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, "knows not that the bashfull muteness of a virgin may oft-times hide all the unliveliness and naturall sloth which is really unfit for conversation." Translation: she may be less bashful than utterly stupid.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Brand Identity

Why don't liberals/DLCers/Progressives go by the moniker Social Democrats? It's a label that hasn't caught on in Americ but seems more appropriate than others.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Naughty Benedict

The Pope recently gave a speech that caused quite an uproar. The thrust of the speech was to engage Post-Christian Europe or rather to scold Europe for its atheism. Of greater consequence, Benedict also quoted an old text, essentialy to disguise his own voice, to assert themes of violence within Islam. Certainly Pope Benedict's statements were less than tactful. However, I am sure that there are better ways to challenge the Pope's assertion of Islam's innate tendencies towards violence than by burning churches and threatening to assasinate the Pope. Just a thought.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Men Are More Intelligent Than Women, Claims New Study

Ok, I am linking to an article that I haven't read, but I was so excited by the headline (which also happens to be my headline). See, whenever my girlfriend and I get into an argument, I try to reason with her that we should stop because I am right. My standard line is "I'm right, you're wrong because I'm a man and you're a woman", at which point she knees me in the groin. Frankly, that is an irrational response and corroborates my original point, which is that I am right becuase of my innately superior reasoning capabilities. Now I have proof and I will say "I'm right, you're wrong because I'm a man and you're a woman, a study says so!" I just need to get a cup before I try it out.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On Plagiarism

I read in an article today that "Peter Levin, a former lecturer at the London School of Economics, has produced a guide to avoiding plagiarism," in which "he says the system of learning promoted in western universities - with its reliance on learning from other people's writing and lectures - actually forces students and academics to plagiarise."

Here's my question: how else are people supposed to learn if not from other people's writings and lectures? Ideas and words, I'm sorry to have to say, do not float around in the ether; they come from what people say, and people like to write things down so that their utterances endure and can be passed on. The claim that learning from lectures and texts practically "forces" one to plagiarize sounds like something one would hear from a student caught in the academically dishonest act of plagiarism.

From my experience, the best thing to do to discourage plagiarism is to be specific about what is expected that the student will do in his or her paper. In this way you can "force" students to write something that is more than a reproduction of what has already been written down by someone else.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Best Line of the Day

From Christopher Buckely in "Let's Quit While We're Behind":

'My fellow Republicans, it is time, as Madison said in Federalist 76, to “Hand over the tiller of governance, that others may fuck things up for a change.”'

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Another Bath Towel Ruined

It wasn't supposed to be like this. I thought that I had turned a corner and cleaned up my act (ass). But it just so happened that after I hung my bath towel I noticed that the rag was stained five shades of brown, representing several different combinations of the food pyramid. To continue living, I must tell myself everyday that I am not a disgrace.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Greatest Career Stats in the History of Sports

I know that the PeP doesn't much cover sports, but I just stumbled upon this on my daily browse. Charlton Jimerson, which is without a doubt a fantastic name, has the best possible line for a baseball player. Batting 1.000 with a 4.000 slugging percentage. His OPS is, then, 5.000. Not even Albert Pujols can beat that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Senate Debate from the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Shorter Mark Kennedy:

"Amy Klobuchar is negative and made me feel bad....Oh, and she is a bad person and will do a bad job and everything is bad about her."

Batten down the hatches, it's going to be a cold one

As reported in the NY Times and elsewhere, The Farmers' Almanac has released its winter outlook. If you love the feel of frozen nostrils and the bite of frostnip, you're in for a good winter.

The Farmers' Almanac, using a top secret meterological formula involving astronomy and sunspots, has been giving weather predictions since 1818; it is reportedly on-target 80% to 85% of the time.

According to the Almanac, this winter will bring temperatures as much as 40 degrees colder than last winter for the entire country, and particularly for the near west (Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana). The midwest may also see unusually heavy snowfall.

If you ask me, as of today they are spot-on. Here in Wyoming we had a painfully warm/hot summer, but two weeks ago it was like a switch was flipped, and autumn arrived. Last week we posted two 39 degree mornings, and Saturday's overnight low is 31 degrees. Last year at this time it was sticky hot in the day and 50 degrees at night.

Just across the valley, a friend of mine did the drive over the Snowy Range two weeks ago - a road up to about 10500 ft - through a thick snowfall.

Conservatives and Liberals Unite, Realize They Still Don't Like One Another

I'm not sure if anyone else was following this, but it seems that little birdies that live in Alaska don't like having their government pork suspended.

The Scenario: Sens. Obama and Coburn, in a bi-partisan lovefest, sponsor a bill that would create a searchable database of governmental expenditures, "The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act" (S. 2590). The searchable database will have Google-like capabilities, and will be called Fedoogle. Or FFundoogle. FFAToogle. Frogger.

Democrats love this idea because it will help their constituents uncover Republican pork. Republicans love this idea because it will help prove to their constituents that Democrats waste money on social programs. Everyone wins. Just like those soccer games that 7 year olds play where the coach buys pizza when the team gets outscored. Hooray.

The bill had broad support, and was supposed to be voted on before the August recess, but all of a sudden it was stopped in its tracks. What could it be? Some bad press? A scandal involving former interns and blowjobs?

Of course not. It was the arcane Senate tradition that allows Senators to put "secret holds" on bills and doesn't allow them to come to a vote until these holds are taken off.

The political blogiverse (blogosphere is so 2005) went wild, with the right and the left teaming up to call their Senators until ever galdamned one of them 'fessed up to their secret holding ambitions. And who should we find as the culprit after all of this? Why, Ted Stevens, bridge-to-nowhere man, the king of pork. TPMMuckraker notes that Stevens was concerned about the cost of the bill. Which was something like 15 million dollars. Yes, 15 followed by 6 zeroes. We spend that about every 2 and a half hours in Iraq. Ted Stevens appropriated/porked 223 million for a bridge linking an island with no people to a city with no people. I mean, no people need bridges. But not 223 million dollar bridges. They need Indiana Jones-type rope bridges or something.

So Senator Stevens is evil, the blogiverse has done its job and rooted out another Republican trying to pork the United States until satiated. Left and Right, everyone comes together to feel good and eat marshmallows.

Until, of course, we found out that former Exalted Cyclops (the Klan knows how to do phallic innuendo) Robert Byrd (D-WV) also put a secret hold on the bill. He has since released it, but it does no good since the Senate went into recess on August 2 and we've had to wait all this time and get all this in-a-huff over it. I want my Fedoogle.