Sotomayor on corporate personhood, one of the deep roots of U.S. evil.
The true measure of power is how much you can get away with, which makes the gangsters running the U.S. effectively all-powerful.
Posted by Jessica Wilson at 01:21 AM in Bush and his Gang, Capitalism and its Alternatives, Civil Liberties, Corporate Power, Demonstrations and Resistance, Economic Issues, Elections, Electronic Voting, Essential Social Services, Fascism Alerts, Foundations, Health Care Issues, Judicial Matters, Media Matters, Miscellaneous Weird Stuff, NY Times Watch, Other Invasions/Occupations, Racism and other isms, Socialism, The Absurd, The Environment, U.S. Elections, Undue Influence, Unions, US Invasions/Occupations, Violent Oppression, Torture, and Abuse, Washington Post Watch | Permalink
Now when some wingnut asks you if you'd prefer to have Saddam back, you can answer 'yes'.
"Before the US-led invasion in 2003, women were free to go to schools, universities and work, and to perform other duties," Senar added. "Now, due to security reasons and repression by the government, they're being forced to stay in their homes."
The new constitution, approved in October 2005, makes Shari'a [Islamic Law] the primary source of national law. According to Senar, however, Shari'a has been misinterpreted by elements within the government and by certain religious leaders, which has resulted in the frequent denial of women's rights. This is particularly the case in matters pertaining to divorce, she said.
Iman Saeed, spokesperson for another women's NGO that helped conduct the survey but which prefers anonymity for security reasons, said that some religious leaders have also begun insisting that women wear the veil. "Many husbands now force their wives to wear the veil, just because a sheikh [religious teacher] said so," Iman said.
Halliburton has been given a $385 million contract to build immigration "detention centers":
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.
What the hell for? Um, just in case there's some kind of "immigration emergency":
[the] "temporary detention facilities" [...] would be used, the story said, in the event of an "immigration emergency."
Jamie Zuieback, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), explained such an emergency like this: "If, for example, there were some sort of upheaval in another country that would cause mass migration, that's the type of situation that the contract would address."
That sounds a tad fuzzy...
To be sure. What kind of upheaval and "mass migration" are they talking about? In this article, an unclear source suggests:
[O]utside events have prompted large waves of immigration in the past. Political upheaval and changes in immigration policy in nations such as Haiti, Cuba and Rwanda have caused an influx of immigrants and refugees from those countries at different times.
Oh, I feel so warm and fuzzy: KBR detention centers are just to keep political, economic, and natural disaster refugees safe, warm, and well-fed (OK, maybe not so well-fed) until they can be resettled in the Land O'Poverty. Only one problem with this justification: after the last large influx of refugees (during the Mariel boatlift), the U.S. responded by clamping down hard on political and other refugees (and that was before 9-11). As per this article from the American Immigration Law Foundation:
News reports indicate that if a significant number of Cubans were to seek freedom in the United States, the anticipated response from the Bush Administration, dubbed “Operation Distant Shore,” would involve “a dramatic escalation in the number of Coast Guard and other military vessels patrolling the Florida Straits – a veritable floating wall designed to interdict as many migrants as possible at sea.”
OK, feeling less warm and fuzzy now. BTW, you might not know just how few refugees the U.S. generally targets for admission each year:
Each year, the State Department prepares a Report to Congress on proposed refugee admissions, then the U.S. President consults with Congress and establishes the proposed ceilings for refugee admissions for the fiscal year. For the 2005 fiscal year (i.e. October 1, 2004 - September 30, 2005), the total ceiling is set at 70,000 admissions and is allocated to six geographic regions: Africa (20,000 admissions), East Asia (13,000 admissions), Europe and Central Asia (9,500 admissions), Latin America/Caribbean (5,000 admissions), Near East/South Asia (2,500 admissions) and 20,000 reserve.
A mere 70K -- ludicrous. Anyway, let's get real. The chillier reason for the centers has nothing to do with sheltering and processing immigrants in times of emergency, but rather with the increasing lust for rounding up and incarcerating illegal immigrants:
Additionally, ICE is planning to increase the capacity of its detention facilities around the country, Zuieback said, particularly after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff pledged to end the agency's unofficial "catch-and-release" policy for some illegal immigrants.
Because ICE's detention facilities are frequently full, there is nowhere to hold illegal immigrants who must have a hearing before they can be deported. This includes most immigrants from nations other than Mexico. In the past, those illegal immigrants have been issued an order to appear for their court date, and then simply released into the United States. The vast majority never show up for the hearings.
Big surprise, but honestly. Why not just look the other way, so "illegals" can go back to working in U.S. sweatshops and fields for no benefits and a few bucks a bushel? Hey, I want my strawberries!
I wonder what KBR's contract has to do with the recent passing (December 2005) of HR. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act? According to Human Rights Watch:
The legislation undermines basic due process protections, human rights obligations, and principles of fundamental fairness. Instead of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, H.R. 4437 is an enforcement-only approach that fails to sufficiently protect individuals in need of protection from persecution and torture, the wrongly accused, and thwarts fair and efficient consideration of the particular circumstances of individuals’ cases.
Of particular concern, the legislation would:
• Impose mandatory detention even when the individual is not a flight risk or threat to the community.
• Allow for the indefinite detention of non-citizens who cannot be deported.
Not only is H.R. 4437 unnecessarily punitive, but it fails to deal with a key cause of the problem: the enormous mismatch between certain United States immigration policies and the increasing demands for workers – often undocumented immigrants – to fill low-wage, service sector jobs.
[A] news story about construction of government detention centers should give us all pause.
Considering what took place in Nazi Germany, as well as the shameful incarceration of Japanese-Americans in 1942, no detention camp should be built without the widest possible public scrutiny.
Bottom line: The contract cries out for greater attention. So far, the government's expressed reason for building them is insufficient and ill-defined. And even if the camps do relate to illegal immigration, their purpose could be changed overnight.
Scary indeed, given the criminal thugs in charge these days. And now for the final icing on the corporate cake:
KBR also has faced allegations that, through subcontractors, it hired numerous illegal immigrants to perform rebuilding work in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina and paid them subminimum wages.
Maybe the workers can build themselves into the centers, just like Mike Mulligan's steam shovel Mary Anne!
[Cross-posted at the Leiter Reports]
The reasons why Alito should not be confirmed are about as clear and distinct as it gets. There's his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (in 1972, when it was still the 60's, people... a college student that was a member of such a sexist, conservative, good-ol-rich-boys club would have to have been a certifiable freak, no doubt unable to get laid even in the age of free love). There's his view that it's OK to strip-search 10-year-old girls, and more generally strip-search people who aren't named in warrants. There's his dissenting option (in a case upholding waiting periods and notification of parents in cases of minors seeking abortions---bad enough, to be sure) against the cases's also striking down a spousal notification requirement (and not to worry about cases where said husband is abusive or said couple is separated -- after all, the "vast majority" of married women seeking abortions tell their husbands of their own free will). Speaking of abortion, Alito is on record (1985) that the Constitution ''does not protect the right to an abortion," flatly contradicting Roe v. Wade. Oh, and there's Alito's repeated judgments against worker's rights (if you click through on anything, do so on previous link; you might want to put on a bib first first because your jaw is going to drop), and in general in favor of fucking over individuals in the most stunningly poorly argued and blatant of fashions, in favor of entities with power and money:
If confirmed, Alito would tip the high court's delicate balance radically to the right. Nearly always favoring the government, corporations and universities, Alito has ruled against individual rights in 84 percent of his dissents.
Oh, and don't forget he's a creepy non-recuser, who doesn't mind judging cases involving (and it goes without saying, ruling in favor of) corporations in which he has a personal financial interest (to the non-minor tune of 390K). Perhaps worse of all, as regards the consequences of installing this power-sucking freak on the court, are his views on executive power:
[I]n a speech to the Federalist Society in November 2000, while a sitting appellate judge, Alito claimed almost limitless powers for the presidency and criticized other courts for limiting executive power. ''The president has not just some executive power," he declared, ''but the executive power -- the whole thing." [...] Alito favors an almost monarchic executive...
Maybe it's just me, but the idea of an all-powerful Bush might be something we would want to avoid... assuming, that is, that death, destruction, corruption, more corruption, more corruption, propaganda, surveillance, global warming, and various other civil, economic, environmental and other disasters aren't our primary goals.
Democrats could block the nomination if they got their act together:
Despite the repeated setbacks to the Bush administration and its allies and Alito's own far-right record, most observers expect him to be confirmed. Blocking Alito would take a filibuster supported by at least 41 senators. Though the Democrats have 45 senators (counting independent James Jeffords), the Senate Democratic leadership frets that a filibuster would divert attention from other Republican woes, might make Democrats look obstructionist, and might lead Republicans to use the so-called ''nuclear option," abolishing filibusters on judicial nominations.
They're fretting about other Republican woes, are they? If Alito gets in he'll give them something to really fret about. But it seems that it isn't enough for some Democrats not to be able to just say no (talk about battered person syndrome). No, some Democrats want to moreover lick the foot that kicks them, by voting for Alito. Why? As Tim Johnson (D-Sd) spins it: ya see, he's just not radical enough to block:
"I am troubled by Judge Alito's apparent views on matters such as executive power, his past opposition to the principle of one person, one vote, and his narrow interpretation of certain civil rights laws," Johnson said. "Even so, I cannot accept an argument that his views are so radical that the Senate is justified in denying his confirmation."
Wow. Anti-coeducation, anti-Roe, anti-worker and individual rights, personal corruption unbefitting any decent person much less a Supreme Court Justice, and pro-executive-monarchy. So just what would it take for Johnson to find a nominee radical enough to block? Maybe the nominee would have to do something as bad as this.
Meanwhile, to add gross insult to injury, another Democrat---Robert Byrd, West Virginia---has chosen to close the long chapter of his tenure as (in the main) a stand-up Democrat by casting his vote for Alito. Evidently his decision is motivated, in part, by his desire to win a record-breaking ninth term as senator, against a monetarily strong opponent. So, rather than retiring with principles intact, in the process preventing generations of Americans (and non-Americans, for that matter) from suffering Alito's presence on the court, Byrd takes a dive so he can enter his 90th year as a Senator. Ah, vanity.
Kerry, by way of admirable contrast, has called for a filibuster. Do what you can to support it; the decent life you save may be your own.
A total of 46,000 uncounted overvotes unambiguously for Gore and 17,000 of them unambiguously for Bush. If I understand this correctly, this means that Gore won the state not by a few hundred or a thousand votes, but by approximately 30,000 votes. It wasn't even close. (Of course, that is without accounting for the butterfly ballot or the African-American non-felons illegally purged from the voter list.)
Why did the overvotes overwhelmingly favor Gore? Dehaven-Smith points out that they were overwhelmingly African Americans, and offers the following interpretation:
One of the things I found that hadn't been reported anywhere is, if you look at where those votes occurred, they were in predominantly black precincts. And (when you look at) the history of black voting in Florida, these are people that have been disenfranchised, intimidated. In the history of the early 20th century, black votes would be thrown out on technicalities, like they would use an X instead of a check mark.
So you can understand why African Americans would be so careful, checking off Gore's name on the list of candidates and also writing Gore's name in the space for write-in votes. But because of the way the vote-counting machines work, this had the opposite effect: the machines threw out their ballots.
This could be the most heartbreaking thing about Florida 2000: African-American voters, who were used to getting screwed out of their votes, took measures to be absolutely sure that their votes counted -- and as a result got screwed out of their votes.
But at least we can say to everyone: Not only did Gore win Florida and thus the election, but it wasn't even close.
UPDATE: Good news!
I'm entirely in agreement with Digby here:
I just spent the last hour reading this series of posts on Obsidion Wings about the reprehensible Lindsey Graham amendment to limit habeas corpus. I feel sick.
I suppose that everyone has certain nightmares that haunt them deeply in some far corner of their consciousness. My most vivid one is being imprisoned for something I didn't do and having no hope of ever being freed. (I'm certain it comes from growing up with an authoritarian father who refused to hear explanations for perceived transgressions.) The Darkness At Noon scenario literally terrifies me. It's one of the main reasons I'm a liberal.
This widely circulated Washington Post article from today, in which a lawyer describes his indisputably innocent client's incarceration in Guantanamo is chilling. I would hope that it would make at least a handful of Senators consider supporting the Bingaman Amendment, which will undo at least some of the damage.
The Republican senate is using habeas corpus as a political football. South Carolinian Lindsay Graham, the sponsor, is undoubtedly feeling tremendous pressure because of his "soft" stance on torture (I still can't believe we are even talking about it) and this is his way of restoring some manly credentials. But there is no excuse for the Democrats who signed on to this. Nor is there any excuse for the Blue state moderates either.
There was obviously some back room dickering on this bit of legislation and that makes me about as sick as anything about this whole thing. They're playing politics with habeas corpus for Gawd's sake. This isn't some fucking highway bill or a farm subsidy. It's the very foundation of our system of government and the single most important element of liberty. If the state can just declare someone an "unlawful combatant" and lock them up forever, we have voted ourselves into tyranny.
I know it's bad form to bring this up, but it's worth mentioning at this moment. Historian Alan Bullock put it this way:
"Hitler came to office in 1933 as the result, not of any irresistible revolutionary or national movement sweeping him into power, nor even of a popular victory at the polls, but as part of a shoddy political deal with the 'Old Gang' whom he had been attacking for months… Hitler did not seize power; he was jobbed into office by a backstairs intrigue.
You don't make back-room deals in which you fuck with the very basis of our system of government. It is irresponsible in the extreme. Considering the people we are dealing with, it's especially risky. You just don't know what they are going to do.
It's bad enough to do it when the administration is riding on a wave of popularity. To do it when there is no good political reason is mind-boggling. Like I said, it's one thing for little Lindsay to have to prove he's not a Democratic eunuch. It's quite another for anybody who isn't a Republican from the deep south to feel the need to back this horror.
Katherine at Obsidion Wings concludes her (and Hilzoy's) masterful series with this:
[I]f you agree, if not with our conclusions, than at least that this is maybe important and complicated enough that we could stand to wait a few weeks, please call your senators, and ask them to vote for Jeff Bingaman's S. AMDT 2517 to bill S. 1042. And please consider asking other people to do the same.
This one is worth making a call for. it's important.
The rule of law in the United States seems to have completely broken down:
The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces "join[ing] the hurricane relief effort." But its men on the ground told a different story.
Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone's apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony's railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action.
The other day I was thinking that at least the Third Amendment was unlikely to come under threat anytime soon. Guess I was wrong.
In an hourlong conversation I had with four Blackwater men, they characterized their work in New Orleans as "securing neighborhoods" and "confronting criminals." They all carried automatic assault weapons and had guns strapped to their legs. Their flak jackets were covered with pouches for extra ammunition.
When asked what authority they were operating under, one guy said, "We're on contract with the Department of Homeland Security." Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, "He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary." The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck. Blackwater spokesperson Anne Duke also said the company has a letter from Louisiana officials authorizing its forces to carry loaded weapons.
"This vigilantism demonstrates the utter breakdown of the government," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and possibly illegal." [...]
A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn's hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn's security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn's associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from "black gangbangers" on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. "At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner," he recalls. "I dropped the phone and returned fire."
Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. "After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said."
Then, Montgomery says, "the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn't even care. They just left." Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on "how they could get out of the city." Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made. "One thing about security," Montgomery says, "is that we all coordinate with each other--one family." That co-ordination doesn't include the offices of the Secretaries of State in Louisiana and Alabama, which have no record of a BATS company.
What the hell is going on here? You guessed it:
Blackwater's success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater's CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush's victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum's re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004.
Can any of you read this and not weep at how the criminals in power have twisted our country into a horrific instrument of evil?
William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty's Washington-based branch, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," defended the human rights group's recent criticism of U.S. treatment of detainees at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The U.S. is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world, many of them secret prisons, into which people are being literally disappeared, held in indefinite, incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families," Schulz said.
"And in some cases, at least, we know they are being mistreated, abused, tortured and even killed."
Not only chillingly, horrifically, evil; but deeply, irrevocably, stupid:
Senior Democrats are calling for the closure of America's detention centre in Guantanamo, Cuba, saying it has become a "propaganda and recruitment tool" for terrorists in the wake of continued allegations of prisoner abuse.
A leading senator, Joseph Biden of Delaware, suggested the time had come to consider a gradual closure of the facility, arguing its worsening reputation around the world was helping to recruit people bent on hurting the US.
"This has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world ..."