Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , No. 05-184

Looks like Solicitor General Paul D. Clement didn't do such a bang up job trying to convince the Supremes to keep their nose out of W.'s drumhead courts. Clement tried to say that the court should wait until after W.'s tribunal has finished finding Salim Hamdan guilty before examining habeas corpus challenges.

Judge Kennedy wasn't buying it. "I had thought that the historic function of habeas corpus is to . . . test the jurisdiction and legitimacy of a court." Crazy buttinsky judge, this is exactly why W. needs the authority to do whatever the hell he wants.

Judge Scalia did his best to help out Clement since he already thinks this challenge is "crazy." "Foreigners, in foreign countries, have no rights under the American Constitution," he told a crowd in Switzerland. "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 courts. " He added, "Give me a break." He also said he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction of Europeans to Gitmo. Remember, that was before he heard the case, which just happens to involve all these issues. But, I guess, since he didn't specifically mention Salim Hamdan, he didn't feel the need to recuse himself.

Another bone of contention is this case is that, apparently, Congress was a little vague about whether the law covered all future habeas corpus cases only or all cases including those still pending. The government argues that the Hamdan case is out of bounds for the Supreme Court. The WaPo reported this exchange:

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that it would be 'an extraordinary act, I think, to withdraw jurisdiction over a pending case.' (David) Souter was even more indignant, admonishing Clement that 'given the significance of suspending the writ of habeas corpus, should we not have a pretty clear statement requirement?' Clement replied that 'just because Congress could have been clearer doesn't mean the government loses here.'" Right, as he said, this particular nicety is "irrelevant."

In an effort to clarify what the authors of the DTA had in mind, Senator Lindsay Graham, the bill's co-author, tried to clarify his position by submitting an Amicus brief which included an "extensive colloquy" he had with Senator Jon Kyl about the act and what it meant. Unfortunately, this conversation didn't actually happen and was just snuck into the Congressional record to make it look like it did, Slate magazine online reports.

You see, they're so convinced that they're right, that the president has the right to make up his own courts where he's the judge, jury and executioner; that they just want to make sure they win the case by cooking the books and having a ringer on the court.

Immigration debate is a diversion. Raise wages!

Immigration is on everyone's mind this week. The Senate is trying to clean up the mess the House made in December, which passed a bill that would make illegals and those that provide humanitarian aid to them felons. [See my thoughts on this back then] Senators are feeling the pressure, from massive protests around the country over this past weekend, to pass a bill that won't make an already bad situation worse.

Our immigrations laws are a real mess and they should be fixed. But, perhaps, an election years is not the right time to tackle this issue. Although, the bill voted out of the Judiciary committee on Monday is fairly sensible, and crucially omits the onerous language put in by the House, there is still a long way to go. For one thing, only 4 out of the 10 Republicans on the committee voted for it. I see more trouble down the road. The sticking point with the hardcore anti-immigrant types ---the Republicans --- is the idea this would provide an amnesty for illegals already here. Making them learn English, pay fines and wait 11 years before they could apply for citizenship hardly sounds like an amnesty, but for those who see deporting 12 million as the only solution to this very complicated issue, no amount of common sense is going to penetrate their thick skulls.

The bill the Senate is considering has a provision in it that calls for a guest worker program, and even though it's more humane than Bush's idea of just having a permanent underclass that works or gets deported at the whim of the employer, it's still is flawed. I don't like the whole idea of guest workers. My worry is that in practice the Senate version will wind up with the same result as W.'s plan. Corporations will always find ways to exploit the workers. (You just know Wal-Mart is licking their lips over this idea!)

What we really need is a total overhaul of our entire wage system. Anti-immigration advocates like to complain that the American worker is being harmed by low wage immigrants, but they don't have much to say about a decent living wage for all. Whether they're illegal or not, all workers should be paid a decent wage. If Congress could ever get around to passing a living wage law, wages would go up for Americans and immigrants. Let’s level the playing field. This is the real solution to the problem of immigration. Better paid workers would have more to spend and would create more jobs, here and in Mexico.

We've allowed "the market" and the "neoliberals" to run things for too long and they've made a mess out of the economy. For the past 20 years or so, it's just been one bubble after another and every time one burst a whole bunch more workers got a big pay cut. Allen Greenspan is hailed as some kind of genius, but all he did was build bubbles for the ultra rich to get richer from. Everybody else is way worse off than they were 10 years ago. Wait until the housing bubble bursts and see how happy everyone is. Blaming the immigrants isn't going to be an option when middle class Americans are being foreclosed out of their homes and into the street.

The same genius' that brought us the Great Depression in the 1930's are getting ready to give another one. As FDR explained at the 1936 Democratic Convention:

"A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money; other people's labor ---- other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real. Men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness. Against such economic tyranny as this, the American citizen could only appeal to the organized power of the government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it."

What we need is another mandate from the people to end this current economic tyranny before it’s too late.

Giving Moussaoui what he wants.

Zacharias Moussauoi really did the prosecutors in his sentencing trial a big favor on Monday by testifying on his own behalf. The prosecution had been on the verge of crashing and burning before Moussaui took the stand. He said he knew about the plan to fly planes into the WTC and he was actually part of another plot to fly a plane into the White House with "shoe-bomber" Richard Reed. Despite these damning admissions by Moussaoui, how much truth there is in all this is still up in the air.

Yesterday, the defense presented written testimony from al-Qaeda big shots who are being held at various undisclosed locations around the world. The government has been waging a year's long battle with Moussaoui's defense team to keep this testimony from being presented and I can see why. The master-mind behind the 9/11 attacks said Moussaoui was basically a small fry and wasn't quite right in the head, either. Hambali, the man behind the Bali bombing in 2002, said that Moussaoui was so annoying that they couldn't wait for him to leave South-East Asia. (Like we need Hambali to tell us he's annoying!)

It doesn't exactly sound like Moussaoui was the big time al-Qaeda mover and shaker he's portraying himself to be. Even Moussaoui himself said in his original guilty plea that, "Everybody knows that I am not al-Qaeda material." Could it be that maybe Moussaoui really, really, really wanted to be in al-Qaeda and they just didn't want to let him into their club so now he's trying to inflate his importance to a world wide audience? Is the prosecution is actually enabling this guy's pathetic delusions of grandeur?

As I wrote before, it's not like these guys are actually deterred by the threat of the death penalty, anyway. They want to die, that's the whole point. As gratifying as it would be to get one of these fuckers behind 9/11, I don't think Mousaoui is one of them. Putting an obviously mentally unhinged person like Moussaoui to death isn't going to bring the twin towers back. Maybe, the government could find a better use of its resources by making sure nuclear devices aren't being smuggled into the country through our ports or something like that?
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