December 01, 2011

Padilla Redux

A lot of hair-tearing and drum-thumping and bloody-shirt-waving out there in wingnutterland about Senate Bill 1867, the Senate version of House Bill 1540, and its provisions regarding detainees. This is the Defense Autorization Act, and the sections under contention in this behemoth of a bill are (respectively) sections 1031 and 1032 in S.1867, and Section 1034 in H.1540.

The hysterically hyperbolic claims being made are that the Senate bill (based on the House bill) would "expand the battlespace" on the WoT to US Soil (already here for a decade, no?) and allow the President to order the indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens, ala Jose Padilla. (If any of this sounds familiar, it's because it's a re-run of claims from the last decade.)

Tired of the flame-rhetoric being tossed about, I did what would seem obvious and read the relevant sections of both bills, as published on THOMAS. As near as I could tell, the only major difference between the two lay in the specific exemptions of Section 1032 in S.1867 that, in essence, exempted US citizens and (for the most part) lawful alien residents of the US from the military detention rules. Then I took a six-pack over to visit with a friend who's a former assistant US Attorney, so he could tell me what I missed.

His take pretty much matched mine as far as the published versions go: Neither bill changes the legal authority of this or the previous admin as far as authorizations under AUMF 2001. They do lay out a set of ground rules for how those authorizations are implemented. Whereas before they were improvised, the bills would provide a framework. Neither bill "expands the battlespace" in any way as compared to the standing law of the AUMF of 2001, they merely reiterate the Congressional authorization of war powers to the President, and explicitly disclaim that they either limit or expand Presidential authority under the AUMF. Where they differ materially is in the exemptions of 1032, which are lacking in the House version, and that's where the Padilla case comes in as directly applicable.

The Bush admin in the Jose Padilla case captured an American citizen who had trabvelled overseas to train in terrorism for the purpose of launching terrorist attacks in the US, and detained him as he got off the plane returning from that training. They held him in civilian custody as a material witness to the 9/11 attacks. Two days before a judge was to rule on his detention under the material witness warrant, the Bush admin designated Padilla as an "enemy combatant" pursuant to the terms of the 2001 AUMF, and placed him in military custody. Padilla's attorneys filed for habeus corpus. To skip the reams of detail, lower courts ruled against the admin and the admin eventually dodged the question going to the Supreme Court by releasing Padilla to civilian custody and chargimg him with in civilian court with crimes overseas. He was susbequently convicted on terrorism charges, and the authority of the President under the 2001 AUMF to declare US citizens "enemy combatants" and detain them in military custody on US soil outside of a war zone remains unsettled.

The House bill lefft that an open question, though from the rulings in Padilla's case and others, it would seem that the courts are inclined to treat US citizens and lawful alien residents as subject only to civilian detention and prosecution when captured on US soil. (Those captured on the field in combat are a different matter, and always have been.) Section 1032 affirms that principle rather than leaving it up in the air.

So what's the gripe here with the Senate version, which specifically provides that any US citizens or (for the most part) lawful alien residents captured by the military be removed to civilian custody? Well, it seems the Obama admin's veto threat was based mostly on the Guantanamo provisions in the bills -- and as to why that is, your guess is as good as mine. But the specific objection seems to be the cluase prohibiting federal funding for facilities on domestic soil to house Gitmo detainees.

BUT it further seems that the direct request of the White House was that Section 1032 be omitted, that they specifically lobbied Levin on that point. They apparently want to keep the "Padilla question" open, rather than affirming what seems to be the direction the courts are going. But as of this writing, 1032(b) excluding US citizens and (for the most part) lawful alien residents from indefinite military detention is still in the Senate bill as published on THOMAS.

To sum up: The hysteria about "extending the battlespace" to allow the President to designate US citizens on US soil as "enemy combatants" to be held in military custody appears overblown, and the situation there is no different than it has been for the last decade under the 2001 AUMF. And it seems it's the White House that wants Section 1032(b) that would defuse that removed from the bill.

It hasn't gone to conference yet to reconcile the House and Senate versions, but judging from the vote totals, the public ranting about who's doing what here seems to be exactly backward. A majority in the Senate want the 1032(b) exclusions. The rest appears to be noise identical to that dating back to the original AUMF. More as this develops, if it does, but I take it as indicative that the more reliable media outlets are not confirming what the ranters are screaming about -- this appears to be a noise machine from multiple sources that just wants the whole damn question left open.

November 09, 2011

Cain's Pain

Having been excoriated by women for pointing out the obvious, I feel compelled to jot a few notes down. You needn't feel compelled to read them. But don't expect a polished blog post.

Cain is accused of being a sexual harasser, one of those modern crimes that in some circles are considered worse than actual physical violence resulting in serious physical injury. Cain may or may not have committed sexual harassment. I have no opinion at this time on his guilt or innocence, though from the descriptions of the alleged incidents (if true) he sounds a lot more like a clumsy wannabe adulterer than a harasser.

The sole exception to that so far are the claims of the one woman who has actually come forward and alleged an offered quid pro quo exchange of employment for sex, and frankly, I don't find her very credible and am unaware of any actual evidence other than her own word that anything untoward occured. Which leads me to ...

What I've gotten beaten up for (by liberals and especially liberal women, naturally) is pointing out that the evidence of actual sexual harassment on Cain's part being offered up was of such a thin, subjective, hearsay, and insubstantial and likely unsubstantiable nature that the media assault on him does indeed resemble a media lynching. While more evidence has come to light, it remains so far of the same nature. There's no blue dress here, no filed rape or attempted rape complaints. The best we have is one known "termination agreement" the contents of which we have not seen, that would likely contain no useful specifics if we could see it, and the recipient of which declined to named (though the media outed her) and who through her lawyer expressed zero desire to re-visit the specifics or even be named, and who has declined to make any other comment other than that lawyer's statement, which amounted to "Buzz off and leave me out of this."

My own crime is not piling on Cain as a despicable predator and cheering on the rope squad. Pointing out that the "evidence" so far offered is so flimsy as to be laughable by legal standards or even journalistic ones. Not buying that just because ANONYMOUS allegations were made does not mean there is any truth to them, or that if there is, we do not know those truths. Noting that all of the allegations, even if backed up publicly by the alleged harassed, still amount to he-said/she-said argument in which our only real standard is our personal assessments of the credibility of the claimants.

There is an apocryphal story about LBJ's campaigning in Texas in his early political years iduring the Depression. LBJ was alleged to have told his campaign chief to spread the rumor that his opponent was known to have engaged in beastiality with his barnyard animals.

"But Lyndon," the aide protested, "We can't call him a pig-fucker!" To which LBJ replied, "I don't want us to call him anything. I want to get him to deny it."

Well, they've gotten their denial, haven't they?

The principle of smearing allegations is firmly esconced in American politics. Sometimes the allegations are true. Most times they are not, or are at best horribly twisted misrepresentations of rather ordinary events. All such allegations WILL have an impact on the politico being smeared, regardless of the truth of them and the evidence or lack thereof, because voters as a whole aren't exactly rocket scientists and tend to run in lemming herds.

Something to remember as the campaigns heat up. You will hear lots of things. Try to apply some critical thinking skills and develop a minimal standard of evidence for evaluating them. It's about all that sets you apart from the lemmings.

October 31, 2011


Holy Carp, Batman! I almost let a month go by without an entry. Blame it on the real world, which insists I have higher-priority obligations than entertaining my seven regular readers. Speaking of the real world, it seems that Jon Corzine has done to MF Global what he almost managed to do to New Jersey:

MF Global files for bankruptcy after deal unravels
MF Global Holdings Ltd, the futures broker run by former Goldman Sachs chief Jon Corzine, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a tentative deal with a buyer fell apart.

The firm's meltdown in less than a week is a stunning setback for Corzine, who sought to turn MF Global into a mini-Goldman. Corzine became CEO last year after losing his governorship of New Jersey, and his big bets on euro-zone debt sealed the company's fate.

Guess that whole revolving-door thing doesn't work as well when there's no massive government bailouts available.

Regulators Investigating MF Global for Missing Money
Regulators are examining whether MF Global diverted some customer funds to support its own trades as the firm teetered on the brink of collapse.

The discovery that money could not be located might simply reflect sloppy internal controls at MF Global. It is still unclear where the money went. At first, as much as $950 million was believed to be missing, but as the firm sorted through its bankruptcy, that figure fell to less than $700 million by late Monday, the people briefed on the matter said. Additional funds are expected to trickle in over the coming days.

Also wik: Others note the obvious ...

Big Three Nets Omit Corzine's Party ID as Feds Investigate His Firm

But of course.

September 23, 2011

As Foretold In The Prophecy ...


Patients to wait longer for care under new health law

My favorite bit:
Expanding insurance coverage without a corresponding increase in the number of primary care doctors, though, could create problems with access to medical care

Ya think? Tell me if this all sounds kinda familiar ...

August 18, 2011

Cannibal Feast: The More Things Change ....

... the more they stay the same.

White House, Senate Democrats clash over campaign cash
Senate Democrats are increasingly concerned that President Barack Obama’s campaign money machine is sucking up so much cash that it will cut into the party’s aggressive campaign to hold on to the Senate next year, several Democratic sources say.

Democratic senators have already pressed Obama campaign officials — including campaign manager Jim Messina — not to lock up the richest Democratic donors, but the presidential campaign declined to make such a promise.

...Messina would not agree to the request not to max out big donors, and no decision was made on the amount of financial backing that Senate Democrats will get from the DNC and the Obama-Biden campaign.

I'm guessing that the future will tell us just how much Obama values person over party.

July 18, 2011

Other People's Money: Blue State Edition

San Francisco To Shutter Courtrooms; Lay Off 200 Workers
The San Francisco Superior Court announced Monday that it's laying off more than 40 percent of its staff and shuttering 25 courtrooms because of budget cuts.

Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein said the actions were necessary to close a $13.75 million budget deficit caused by state budget cuts. She said the cuts mean it will take many more hours to pay a traffic ticket in person, up to 18 months to finalize a divorce and five years for a lawsuit to go to trial.

"The civil justice system in San Francisco is collapsing," Feinstein said.

Maybe she should ask her mama where all the money's gone.

June 08, 2011

Is this the Hope or the Change?

Questions surround feds' raid of Stockton home

Nothin' says HopeyChange!™ quite like a federal SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education breaking into your home and hauling you off to jail when you're not even the person they're looking for.

And seriously ... SWAT teams for student loans? Was there any reason to believe that Wright's ex-wife was an armed desperado who would violently resist? Why the holy hell does the Department of Education have SWAT teams anyway?

June 01, 2011

Morons On Parade

Admittedly the choices are both numerous and bipartisan, but for this week I nominate the new chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who recently said:
" ... the Republican solution that I’ve seen in the last three years is that we should just pack them all up and ship them back to their own countries and that in fact it should be a crime and we should arrest them all.”

The comment has drawn attention among conservative commentators and bloggers. During the comments, the chairwoman referred to legislation in 2006 by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) that would increase border enforcement and make illegal immigration a criminal offense instead of a civil matter.

Joining her as co-nominee for that report is Christian Science Monitor reporter Fred Lucas, who seems as blithely unaware as Wasserman Schultz (and Janet Napolitano) that illegal immigration is indeed a criminal offense in the United States and not a civil offense, and has been for quite some time. Decades, even.

May 20, 2011

Netanyahu Urges U.S. Return To 1845 Borders

Netanyahu Urges U.S. Return To 1845 Borders
Israeli PM calls for “just solution” to end the conflict.

Aboard Air Force Aleph (Reuters) – Speaking to reporters accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his long flight to the United States tonight, Netanyahu spoke of the injustice and hardship Mexicans have endured since American forces annexed Texas in 1845. “Tens of thousands of ordinary Mexicans were driven out of their homes – the only homes they had known for centuries – and forced to live in poverty and squalor south of the border imposed by American aggression,” Netanyahu said. “The Israeli and Mexican people agree on this: This festering wound will never heal until America takes bold steps to return to the internationally accepted lines of 1845. Clearly the settlement activity that’s taken place in occupied Mexico since then is illegal. When I meet the President tomorrow I will tell him to halt all building activity in Texas immediately. Two lands for two peoples, yes, but not on land taken by force from Mexico,” the Prime Minister said.
Asked if his hard-line stance could hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship, Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to America’s security and the unshakeable friendship shared by the two countries, then added, “But who was it who said, part of friendship is being able to tell your friend the truth. The ball is now in Obama’s court.”

Yeah, it's a spoof, but not at all out of line. There are some important differences between the two situations, though. Namely, the government of Mexico has never made it official policy that America should be destroyed and all Americans killed.

The Palestinian government, not so much.

April 23, 2011

Health Care Cost Cutting Explained... Don Surber.
Large demand divided by small supply equals high prices.

You don’t even have to sleep at a Holiday Inn Express to know that.

Even if you're Paul Krugman.

April 08, 2011


Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

March 26, 2011

Comedy of Errors

When Judge Maryann Sumi enjoined the Wisconsin Secretary of State from publishing the just-passed union legislation (just before leaving on vacation) the desperate union left rejoiced. One little problem -- it looks like she enjoined the wrong party, and the law was published anyway.

Wisconsin Union Law Published Despite Court Order

Wisconsin officials couldn't agree Friday about whether an explosive law taking away nearly all public worker collective bargaining rights was about to take effect after a nonpartisan legislative bureau published it despite a court order blocking implementation.

...Walker signed the collective bargaining measure March 11 and La Follette had designated Friday as the date of publication. But after the restraining order, La Follette sent a letter to the Reference Bureau saying he was rescinding the publication date.

The Reference Bureau said it's still required to publish every new law within 10 working days after it's signed by the governor, on the date designated by the secretary of state, so it went ahead on Friday.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice issued a statement saying it would evaluate how the publication of the law, which it said was lawful, affects the lawsuit that prompted the restraining order. The bureau's action did not require anything to be done by La Follette and he was not in violation of the court's order, the DOJ statement said.

Long story short: Apparently, Sumi enjoined the wrong party.

SoS La Follette (a partisan Democrat who openly acknowledged pushing back the publication date as far as he legally could to facilitate unions getting contracts in place before the law took effect) did not violate the injunction. The SoS's only discretion is in setting the date of publication, which must be within ten working days of the Governor's signature on the bill. Nor does WI statute appear to give the SoS any power to rescind once the date is set. Sumi's order enjoined the SoS from publishing the law, but it is not the SoS that initially publishes, it's the LRB. The SoS publishes later in the state newspaper, but it appears to be the LRB publication that counts for activating the statute. The law gives the LRB no discretion about whether or not to publish, the LRB was not enjoined, had a statutory DUTY to publish, and did so.

There will be much bickering about "intent" and so forth, and not being a lawyer I will simply watch the proceedings with amusement. We do love a circus! For those interested in the technicalities, this piece by Marquette law professor Rick Esenberg is a good start. A good takeaway quote:

"District Attorney Ozanne and Judge Sumi never had the authority to stop publication and their failure to read the law has only resulted in their own errors being negated. There is poetic justice in that."

Indeed. And some delicious irony too.

March 25, 2011

Save the Children!

San Francisco becoming a child-free zone as youth population declines
Despite efforts to stem the tide of family flight, the population of children in San Francisco continues to ebb.

...The decrease is disappointing news for city officials, who have attempted to counter the family-flight trend by creating more affordable housing, improving schools and cutting costs, such as a college savings account for kindergarten enrollees.

Yeah, it's a real mystery. No one could ever have seen this coming. Right?

March 14, 2011

Law of the Instrument, Redux

Kaplan's Law of the Instrument states: "Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."

I was amused to stumble over Gabriel Malor's variation: "If your only tool is a hammer, then all your problems start to look like people that need to be beat with a hammer."

March 12, 2011


I don't have a lot to add to the screaming in Wisconsin (Ann Althouse and hubby Meade have already done a fine job of on-site reporting) other than a few observations. One of which is this:

March 10, 2011
Mr. Tom Ellis, President
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation
770 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Dear Mr. Ellis:
As you undoubtedly know, Governor Walker recently proposed a “budget adjustment bill” to eviscerate public employees’ right to collectively bargain in Wisconsin...

As you also know, Scott Walker did not campaign on this issue when he ran for office. If he had, we are confident that you would not be listed among his largest contributors. As such, we are contacting you now to request your support.

The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.Wisconsin’s public employee unions serve to protect and promote equality and fairness in the workplace. We hope you will stand with us and publicly share that ideal.

In the event you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact the executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Jim Palmer, at 608.273.3840. Thank you in advance for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

James L. Palmer, Executive Director
Wisconsin Professional Police Association
Mahlon Mitchell,President
Professional Fire Fighters
Jim Conway, President
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311
John Matthews, Executive Director
Madison Teachers, Inc.
Keith Patt, Executive Director
Green Bay Education Association
Bob Richardson, President
Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Dan Frei, President
Madison Professional Police Officers Association

If this were teachers making boycott threats, it would be garden variety union weight-swinging, annoying perhaps but quite legitimate. But when law enforcement and fire fighters utter such veiled threats, it starkly illustrates exactly WHY public-sector unions are a bad idea for a free society.

As the racketeers always say, "Nice business you have there. Shame if anything were to happen to it." By stacking up the law enforcement and fire unions as the majority of the signers, the implied threat is clear. "Support us ... or else." Don't expect any rapid response or strenuous investigations when your building or home or vehicles get vandalized or torched, or when you or your employees are harassed and/or assaulted. It's not only an implied threat, it's a backhanded invitation to fellow travelers to demonstrate the Protection Principle to you.

On a lighter note, one of the funnier headlines of the day:

Wisconsin labor protesters refuse to quit

Heh. And you can't just fire them, they're union!

February 25, 2011

Half and Half

Sex, cocaine, air pollution, anger, caffeine and alcohol among top causes of heart attacks: study

Come between me, my woman, and my rum & cola and you're a dead man. The rest you can have.

February 22, 2011

Pants On Fire! and sundry shorts


Despite the copious reporting from respectable sources that the White House was up to its lymph nodes in the Wisconsin protests, the White House is now denying involvement.
Administration officials said Sunday that the White House had done nothing to encourage the demonstrations in Wisconsin — nor was it doing so in Ohio, Florida and other states where new Republican governors are trying to make deep cuts to balance their budgets.

Pull the other one! The fast backtrack tells us exactly how poorly the protests and the legislator walkout walkouts are playing with the public, even as union and Democrat leaders go all in.

Only the dimmest voters are going to buy the administration's attempted triangulation. Those observing more closely will notice the admin's determined efforts to entrench union power, even at the cost of the workers the unions claim to be representing. Well, enough of that. Onward into the fog ...


In an astounding display of complete idiocy, Arvada police have arrested, handcuffed, and thrown in a cell a handicapped 11-year-old for drawing stick figures at school as a coping mechanism as directed by the child's therapist. One notes that the thousands of dollars the parents have spent on dealing with the legal issues would have been much better spent on, you know, the therapy the kid needs. Well, let's just keep on trucking through the idiocies of the day.


Detroit is closing HALF their public schools to stay afloat. But don't worry, they haven't asked the unions for any concessions yet!


Over on the Left Coast, our ever-nannyish friends in Loonie Land San Francisco are all set to ban infant circumcision. Apparently the science is not allowed to be an issue. Maybe they just want to discourage certain ethnic groups from living in the city.

Closing quote: Industrial unions are organized against the might and greed of ownership. Public employees unions are organized against the might and greed...of the public? --Joe Klein

January 31, 2011

Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

We were assured that objections to the constitutionality of the individual mandate were frivolous. Judge Vinson found them quite convincing, especially the objection that if the individual mandate is not limited by the Constitution, then damn near nothing is. He found the individual mandate unconstitutional.

With prejudice.

In subsequently dealing with the issue of severability, Vinson wholly accepted the government's oft-repeated assertion that the individual mandate was inextricably integral to the entire bill, and accordingly struck down ObamaCare in its entirety, saying it was not the function of the judiciary to re-write legislation when it failed to pass judicial review. That, he said, remains the job of Congress.

Hoist with their own petard.

Vinson's Summary Judgement decision can be read HERE.

January 21, 2011

Pleasant Diversions

Is it that time of year again? Why, yes it is!

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.

Registration code: XXXXXX 946373

January 20, 2011

California's Creative Disaster Preparedness Plan

As reported by IowaHawk:

As you may have read recently, a panel of 100 scientists is now warning that the state of California faces the risk of severe “superstorms” that could inflict more that $400 billion in economic damages to our state economy. According to these predictions, such storms could bring more than 120 inches of rain to the Central Valley, and last as long as 40 days. And, possibly, nights.

In anticipation of such a catastrophic event, I will soon begin seeking $75 billion in emergency supplementary appropriations from the California Assembly and federal sources for the construction of the California SuperArk, a state-of-the-art mass transportation vehicle which will help insure the sustainability of our state and its endangered species.

Chase the linky to read the rest. Being as it's Jerry Brown's idea, I'm sure that this is the real deal, and not some scam whereby the requested federal funding would be diverted to shore up the state's minor current deficit.

January 14, 2011

Sarah Palin did it? Really?

In the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, the contention of the left that heated rhetoric on the right and on the part of Sarah Palin in particular is somehow a root cause of this tragedy is, to say the least, disingenuous.

Sheriff Dupnik in particular deserves to be singled out for scorn in this regard. A review of the available evidence shows that not only was jared Loughner not a right-wing nut, but apparently paid little attention to politics at all. The only voices that seem to have affected his behavior were those coming from his fillings, or perhaps his breakfast cereal.

(When contacted for their reactions, Snap, Crackle and Pop had no comment.)