Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

ONE: There’s Got to Be a Morning After

On November 7, the sun rose over a Republican Party in bleary-eyed disarray. Clearly, it was time for institutional soul searching, time to push the chair back from the immovable feast of civic ignorance, time to build bridges to women, blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, time to stop screeching and – politely, respectfully, humbly – rejoin the American conversation.

Naturally, none of this happened. Instead, the GOP nonchalantly brushed the cigarette butts off the pizza crusts, shook off its electoral hangover, and resumed its reckless bender. Compromise? Nope. Public interest? Don’t care. Policy proposals? Not a chance. Constitution? Screw it.

There’s no better (meaning worse) example of this than Louie Gohmert. The fifth-term Texas Congressman kicked off 2013 by joining with the equally loathsome Paul Broun to nominate Allen West for Speaker of the House, but quickly moved on to what Gohmert considers much more serious business, in this case the defense of the Republic from the grave and gathering threat of, uh… sharia law.

Gohmert used a recent appearance on a rightwing radio show to share his “thoughts” on the topic:

We – we’ve got some people that think Sharia Law ought to be the law of the land, forget the Constitution. But the guns are there, that Second Amendment is there, to make sure all the rest of the Amendments are followed.

Of course, this is the same guy who commented, following the Newtown massacre:

I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.

If there’s a silver lining to having Gohmert sitting in the House of Representatives, it’s that he no longer presides as Chief Justice of the Texas 12th Court of Appeals, a position to which he was appointed in 2002 by fellow empty-headed loudmouth Rick Perry.

TWO: Michele Bachmann, Job Creator

Her presidential campaign never got past Iowa. She barely held on to her House seat despite outspending her Democratic opponent by a factor of 11. She’s currently embroiled in a sordid set-to with former campaign staffers over unpaid wages and various other alleged improprieties. Despite all that, Michele Bachmann is heartily pleased with herself.

In an appearance at Patrick Henry College the other day as part of the school’s Newsmakers interview series, Bachmann boasted:

“If you’re a conservative you can never get anything wrong and I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates… It forces a person to be better. You have to be a virtual Wikipedia.”

Or not. At all. As Raw Story points out:

During the Republican presidential primary debates, Bachmann claimed the HPV vaccine could cause mental retardation.

And in a later debate, Bachmann claimed she had never made the claim.

She also claimed President Barack Obama had “the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern times,” accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of implementing “socialized medicine,” and said the U.S. “will be paying for the entire People’s Liberation Army of China” by 2015.

In a November 2011 debate, Bachmann insisted that the Obama Administration had canceled the Keystone XL pipeline (it hadn’t) and the 20,000 jobs it would supposedly create (it won’t), and that the President had met, without preconditions, no less, with Iranian officials (he didn’t).

This is just the latest example of Bachmann vigorously and quite inappropriately patting herself on the back for veracity she doesn’t possess. In one of the debates, she went as far as asserting that PolitiFact backed her up:

“After the debate that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything I said was true.”

Of course, Politifact had done no such thing:

… in fact, Bachmann earned two ratings from us at that debate, a Mostly True for her claim that Newt Gingrich advocated for the individual mandate in health care and a Pants on Fire for her claim that Mitt Romney set up a health plan in Massachusetts that is “socialized medicine.”

And PolitiFact didn’t let it go at that:

… The fact that Bachmann would cite us was interesting given that her PolitiFact report card shows 60 percent of her ratings have been False or Pants on Fire.

In another debate, Bachmann hilariously claimed that raising the debt ceiling would be equivalent to handing Barack Obama a “blank check,” but I agree with John Avlon that a favorite hit from the Bachmann songbook of deceit is this:

“This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He’s outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.”

Bachmann may consider herself a “virtual Wikipedia,” but I think Robert Schlesinger was a lot closer to the mark when he described her as:

… practically a walking, talking full-employment plan for journalistic fact-checkers.

THREE: Three of an Imperfect Pair

But a vibrant democracy needs more than just elected asshats; it also needs unelected ones. Enter Larry Pratt, Stan Solomon and Greg W. Howard.

Pratt is something of a Renaissance asshat. Yes, he did serve briefly in the Virginia House of Delegates, but he’s been far more active and effective since leaving office. He founded the xenophobic organization English First, served as a board member of ALEC, and currently helms Gun Owners of America, a group of firearms fetishists who consider the NRA a bunch of pinko sellouts.

Solomon is a broadcast hatemonger with a particular bent for homophobia, and is best known for his inability to shut up.

Howard is sort of a journeyman asshat. He considers Alan Keyes “eloquent” and Twitter a “haven for cyberbullying, pornography, racism,” he describes abortion in the African American community as “America’s Holocaust,” and he has a strange obsession with Saul Alinsky, in much the same way, I suppose, that some people are obsessed with Space Food Sticks or surreys with a fringe on top or The Buggles. Continue reading Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

Take Five (The Wrong Remains the Same edition)

ONE: “What part of ‘second’ don’t you understand?”

Did you daydream that Republicans would accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s renewed mandate and resolve to be a little more cooperative? That restless legions of Teabaggers and assorted civics-challenged bigots would cease their puling about “Socialism!” and “Death Panels!” and their frenzied flocking to gun stores and gun shows in advance of an imaginary Obama vendetta against the Second Amendment? That the comically desperate birthers would quietly disperse at last, their tumid fantasies of the Republic being “saved” by Antonin Scalia and/or Donald Trump deflated for all time?

Yeah, neither did I.

President Obama’s second term already seems destined to be as rife as his first with an unrelenting din of obstructionist Republicans, conspiracy cranks and bullet-headed jerks utterly horrified by the President’s only-half-white pigmentation. Hold your breath and let’s start at the very bottom of the barrel.

Although her campaign to become an obstructionist Republican was a characteristically garish failure, Orly Taitz certainly has the conspiracy crank and bullet-headed jerk categories comprehensively covered. The national poster child for every fool out in the darkness aspiring to be a dentist/attorney/fanatic has once again been smacked down from the bench, in this case by District Court Judge Morrison C. England Jr. in Sacramento:

“Your argument, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” the judge told her at one point…

“Why do you keep filing these lawsuits when they keep getting rejected?” England asked…

Taitz responded by comparing herself to Thurgood Marshall and his persistence in filing suits to fight segregation. She explained that one of the plaintiffs is a Republican elector for Mitt Romney, who came in second to Obama in November.

“But second,” England countered. “What part of ‘second’ don’t you understand?”

Like Wile E. Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, no matter how many times she finds herself running right off the edge of a mesa (carrying an AcmeTM anvil) Taitz doesn’t quit. And her fans love her for it. Her website – not linked here because it’s said to be riddled with viruses and spyware – recently featured this testimonial from someone purporting to be a court reporter in attendance at the oral arguments before Judge England:

… I found the judges actions to be unbelievable.  There is something terribly wrong when our judiciary system will not stand up and take note of this kind of blatant corruption. I was one of the last ones filing out that shock you hand, it was a pleasure. Although I am on a fixed income, I will contribute to your (our) cause in the near future. Sincerely, Vernon Steinkamp

Personally, I think there’s something terribly wrong when the “judiciary system” allows Vernon Steinkamp to transcribe legal proceedings, but perhaps that’s why they put him on a fixed income. Still, I’ve read enough of Taitz’s submissions in serial unsuccessful proceedings to think Mr. Steinkamp might just be her ideal transcriptionist. At a minimum, I surely would like to see him, um, shock she hand.

Elsewhere on the “World’s Leading Obama Eligibility Challenge Web Site,” you can find Taitz’s funhouse-mirror musings on the proceeding in Sacramento. Ever wanted to know how the exact opposite of a great legal mind works? Here’s how:

The judge nodded and told me, indeed the U.S. Constitution does not require the US President to have valid IDs.

I responded to him that the U.S. Constitution does not require the President to have a pulse also…

Taitz is at least perceptive enough to notice that Judge England was pained by the proceeding, but earnestly misconstrues the cause of his suffering:

The judge lowered his head, he was holding his head with his hands, he was clearly following the marching orders from the regime and was deeply ashamed of it. A number of people later told me that they felt that the judge looked like he was ashamed of what he was doing…

For Taitz, though, misconstruing things is a vocation, a calling, a crusade:

I showed him that it is impossible to have a white hallo around words if you only place a document on the green safety paper…

It seems that during Obama regime the only ones who get protection from the law are the criminals, the law abiding citizens are completely deprived of all of their rights, the only thing they have to protect them, is ammo…

Well, and those shocking hands, of course. As is customary with any story involving Taitz, the weirdness soon got ratcheted up further. After Judge England rejected her claims, he went on to reject her emergency 60(b) motion, which alleged – among many other things – that the President has, or is, a double. Or something:

Additionally, widely published picture by Dr. Scott Inoue, Obama’s former classmate, shows Barack Obama as a third grade student in Hawaii in 1969. At the same time official Obama school records show him in Indonesia in 1967-1969 attending school in Jakarta Indonesia under the name Barry Soetoro. It means that from January 1, 1967 till 1969 we could see two distinct individuals: Barry Obama residing in Hawaii and Barry Soetoro residing in Indonesia. We do not know, which one of them came back to the U.S. in 1971… If Barry Soetoro came back, than the question is, what happened to Barry Obama? Is he even alive? A number of high ranking officials of the U.S. Government and the government of Hawaii are complicit in the most egregious crimes, cover up of the forgery, however it might be more than fraud and forgery. If Barry Soetoro came from Indonesia instead of Barry Obama, this is espionage.

TWO: Failing Upward

At the moment, Taitz is aglow with the prospect of a potential new ally, in the form of a nakedly political Supreme Court controlled by the Republican Party, or at least a powerful faction of it. She buoyantly announced recently that the Supreme Court doesn’t yet find her as irritating as Judge England does. Perhaps they’re still unaware of her terrible prose:

Press release!

Law offices of Orly Taitz

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States John Roberts scheduled a case by attorney Orly Taitz dealing with Barack Hussein Obama’s use of forged IDs to be heard in conference before the full Supreme Court…

Please, keep in mind, Richard Nixon was reelected and sworn in, but later was forced to resign as a result of Watergate. over 30 high ranking officials of Nixon administration including Attorney General of the United States and White HouseCcounsel were indicted, convicted and went to prison.  ObamaForgery gate is a hundred times bigger then Watergate.  More corrupt high ranking officials, US Attorneys, AGs and judges were  complicit, committed high treason by allowing a citizen of Indonesia and possibly still a citizen of Kenya Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barack (Barry) Soebarkah, aka Barack (Barry) Soetoro to usurp the U.S. Presidency by use of forged IDs and a stolen Social security number.

The Supreme Court will turn its collective mind to the case in a February 15 conference, and if four of the justices decide it’s warranted, the Court will go on to hear argument. In other words, the Supreme Court is going to waste time deciding whether to waste further time on this scurrilous nonsense. If that’s not outrageous enough, consider the possibility that, just maybe, Clarence Thomas will open his yapper during consideration of Taitz’s litigation, now that he has recently broken seven years of weird silence from the bench. Heady days for democracy. Continue reading Take Five (The Wrong Remains the Same edition)

Digging Deeper: Justice Scalia, No Fear of His Own Horror

It’s not the 4th of  July, but I’m having flashbacks to two century-old Supreme Court cases involving liberty: Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott.

Dred Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom on the grounds he moved from a state that chartered slavery to federal territory that didn’t recognize slavery as a legal institution, and did recognize a number of citizenship rights for blacks including marriage. Therefore as a resident in a free land with no provision for slavery, he should be free. The Supreme Court’s decision, by seven to two, abrogated his right, but also states’ rights. When it came to slavery, the court ruled the slave had no standing to bring a legal case against his or her status. The court also firmly declared slaves were property, chattel, having “no rights any white man was bound to respect.” Despite state laws, a slave transported to Massachusetts remained in bondage.

The Dred Scott decision was only the second time an act passed by Congress was ruled unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roger Taney’s written decision struck down the Missouri Compromise, passed in 1820, which limited the expansion of slavery into federal territories.

The 14th Amendment removed Dred Scott as a legal precedent, but it remains important in history, as example of how US law is interpreted and rights altered through the institutions of the courts, states, and federal government. For often, law is about ends and means, what it affirms and what it denies.

I’m an American-born, free black. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wants to return to the days when my state, South Carolina, could come to my door and demand that I leave. By state law, South Carolina authorities before 1865 before could compel me by force to leave the state. The state could prohibit my return. Not because of crimes, but merely due to my status—as free and black. The basis of such state laws, among others, was the Dred Scott case.

On Monday, Justice Scalia referred to such an egregious use of force by the state to compel forced removal as “travel restrictions.” The dislocation of free people—a violation of common sense, morality, ethics, human rights and settled law—was one of the examples Scalia chose to cite in his 22-page dissent on Arizona v. the United States, which tells why he sees Arizona having the historic and absolute right to expel residents at will.

Scalia, in his independent, after-the-fact dissent on Arizona v. the United States, desperately wants states to have the same expired right to ban or expel undocumented workers. He goes a step further and sees the constitution and legal precedent as granting—no, more—guaranteeing this right of sovereignty to states, with the federal function to protect the entitled state authority above its own.

The removal of a person from a state may be a matter of policy and civil law, but against the person, it is a high crime and a declaration and act of war. Some have already taken Scalia’s fantasy-filled illogic to call for secession—again. The desire to truncate all federal activities burns in their hearts.

From a blog:

“Message to Arizona- Start forming Infantry Regiments wholly under the control of the Arizona Governor and state legislature. It is impossible to see any other alternative for states and citizens wishing to protect their Constitutional rights in the face of a runaway Federal Government of the United States, and its various organs, that has all but suspended the founding intent of the original Constitutional Convention.

LET FREEDOM RING!!!”

The American tradition of jurisprudence is giving every lying, crazy white man a pass, through what Jeffery Tobin called a “loss of perspective.” There is freedom of speech but no freedom to reside, if the state decrees so by law. If Scalia is right, by extension, we are all naked, unprotected—as free blacks once were! We can all sing “Kumbaya” on the bus.

And with his dissent, Justice Scalia became the first justice ever to use a dissent as a blog.

Careful reading of Justice Scalia reveals he uses established principles of international law on sovereignty. As a strict constitutionalist, wedded to original meanings, his far afield examination of international precedents outside US law seems to go against his own logic and prescriptions. The decisions and principles he cites are about national sovereignty, not the sovereignty of states or entities within a nation. He is treating the constitution as a contract whose purpose is to establish a federal government to provide services as the states collectively require, but with limited authority of its own. In fact, Mr. Scalia at one point cites the Articles of Confederation—written before the constitution, when the colonies were independent, as relevant. He sees no prudent limitation on the authority of states.

He does not see the state’s action as poaching on federal authority: “The state’s detention does not represent the commencement of the removal process unless the Federal government makes it so.” “The most important point is Arizona is entitled to have “its own immigration policy”—including a more rigorous enforcement policy—as long as it does not conflict with federal law.” “There is no reason Arizona can not make it a state crime for any removable alien to remain in present in Arizona.” And then: “What I fear is that federal policies of “non enforcement” will leave the states helpless before those evil effects of illegal immigration that the Court dutifully recites in its prologue but leaves unremedied in its disposition.”

This last statement is a clear call to action: the assertion that the Court is to provide a remedy that goes beyond legal merits and attacks “evil effects.” As a free black (once removed!) I cringe that the scales of Scalia’s justice now weigh evil effects. Especially without concern for the justifying excesses of unrestrained authority. It seems Justice Scalia protects, as one of the original states’ rights, the right to discriminate without regard to liberty, due process, human rights, or national policy, calling himself an originalist, not an activist.

Plessy v. Ferguson, heard in 1896, involved segregated, race-based seating on street cars in Louisiana. The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th amendment was not intended to eliminate or abolish differences of social privilege based on race or color, and states had a right to reflect custom, tradition and use in their laws. Discrimination as a custom could be legally maintained. Plessy by law must sit in the colored section during his public journey. Continue reading Digging Deeper: Justice Scalia, No Fear of His Own Horror