Archive for February, 2016

September 11, 2001: Former Vice Pres. Dick Cheney Watches WTC Burn During the "We Kept You Safe" Period.

September 11, 2001: Former Vice Pres. Dick Cheney kicks back to watch the WTC burn during the period in which the Bush Administration “Kept Us Safe.”

Leave it to Dick Cheney to find a way to kill two birds with one stone. (That doesn’t mean you should go bird hunting with Cheney, though. Some people who have done that have literally lost face.)

During the Republican debate this past weekend, The Donald once again hit Dubbya  (and Jeb! too) (!) on the Right Wing’s bogus claim that Dubbya “kept us safe.” Trump correctly pointed out that the World Trade Center towers (as well as a few thousand people caught inside) were destroyed during W’s reign. That August 6, 2001 President’s Daily Briefing to Dubbya with the re line “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.” just won’t go away.

Here’s Cheney responding to Trump’s criticism of the Bush Administration:

The other areas, for example, if you look at what we did in the aftermath of 9/11, we did in fact keep the nation safe for seven and a half years. The president put in place important programs, terrorist surveillance program, enhanced interrogation techniques. All of those things gave us the information that we needed to act. And we had the tremendous support of the American military. They did a superb job. So for Mr. Trump to suggest that just, in my mind, is way off base. He clearly doesn’t understand or has not spent any time learning the facts about that period. 

See, when you talk about keeping the United States safe, you only count seven and a half years out of eight. The first six months don’t count in Cheneyland.

And here’s the second bird: Cheney’s logic also works when a right wing justice on the Supreme Court dies and you don’t want a Democratic president to name a successor. The first half year of a president’s term doesn’t count, even if our country experiences the worst terrorist attack in its history on our own home soil. And under the same Cheney logic, the last half year doesn’t count, so Obama shouldn’t get to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

See how evenly that works out? Better than a pair of bookends. Here’s a little jingle a la William Blake to help us keep this in mind:

Cheney, Cheney burning bright

In the Beltways of the night

Oh, what pundit’s hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


Read Full Post »

The late Justice Antonin Scalia

The late Justice Antonin Scalia

Scalia was the leading proponent of what he termed “textual originalism” in constitutional cases. By this he meant to convince the world that, as a judge, he was merely a passive cypher or conduit for the original intent of the Framers. If a judge had to interpret something in the Constitution, he or she should embrace a strict dictionary definition and not try to divine what Madison, Hamilton and the rest may have had in mind but for whatever reason didn’t write into the document. If the Framers wanted the Constitution to mean something, they should have said so. Scalia and the so-called originalists claim that theirs is the only “objective” way of reading the Constitution. Moreover, the dictionary you go by should be contemporaneous with the part of the Constitution you’re working on. Thus, under Scalia’s approach, you’ll need the 1789 version of Webster’s (or its equivalent, if Webster wasn’t born yet). Likewise, grab hold of  the 1866 version for the post-Civil War amendments, and so on.

Originalism is a complete canard. Neither Scalia nor any of the remaining four right wing jurists now on that bench genuinely believe that “originalism” somehow limits their ability to construe the Constitution. To the contrary, they depart from “originalism” at will, and then try to bend it backwards to explain their result-oriented decisions.

The most insightful disassembly of Scalia’s sham originalism is Posner’s article, The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia, For example, Posner cites a case in which Scalia voted to hold unconstitutional a federal law making the burning of the American flag unlawful. But as Posner points out, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. Speech in 1789, meant speech, talk, tongue-wagging. No mention is made of non-verbal “speech,” and under Scalia’s announced principles, if the Framers meant to protect non-verbal speech they should have said so. Posner goes on to completely destroy the notion of “originalism” in reference to the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, for which no textual support exists in the Constitution.

Wayne LaPierre and the gun lobby would be quite surprised if Scalia’s textual orginalism were applied to the Second Amendment. By “arms” the Framers could only have understood the type of gun used by Leonardo DeCaprio in his new early wilderness flick, Revenant: muzzle-loading, black powder affairs that could fire one shot. Not only that, but once you pull the trigger on one of those babies, it takes another half-second or so before the bullet actually blasts out of the muzzle. Compared to modern guns, that’s an eternity. Then you have to put the damn thing down and reload it.

If Scalia really believed his own nonsense, perhaps we would have no controversies about assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. Such things were unknown to the Framers, and accordingly there would be no constitutional right to own them. There’s an advantage in that, though. If textual originalists meant what they said, nut-cases like Jared Lee Loughner would probably have caused far fewer fatalities.

But consistency is merely the hobgoblin of non-originalist minds.

Perhaps now Scalia and originalism can take their rightful place, right next to Derrida and deconstructionism, in the Encyclopedia of Piffle.

Read Full Post »

Tickle-Me-Rubio Doll shown wearing "Primary" wardrobe set (not included).

Tickle-Me-Rubio Doll shown wearing “Primary” wardrobe set (not included).

Establishments-R-Us Toymakers have issued an immediate recall notice on all Tickle-Me-Rubio Dolls. The notice stated that Tickle-Me-Rubio represents a choking hazard – not to children under five years of age, but rather before a live audience.

Originally invented by entrepreneurial Cuban immigrants to the United States, the bright and chipper looking doll’s main feature was to issue a series of pre-recorded statements whenever a child asked it a question. Accessories were also available, such as the dark suit and red tie “Primary” wardrobe (see illustration above).

Tickle-Me-Rubio surprised many toy industry analysts back in 2009 when, during a very competitive holiday marketing season that November, it took on and outsold the highly popular Charlie Crist and Lucy political football kit, in which the Lucy doll would hold the political football for the Charlie Crist doll and then pull it away just as he’s about to get elected. Sales of Tickle-Me-Rubio in the Florida market were particularly strong.

All of Tickle-Me-Rubio’s prerecorded statements were vetted before focus groups so that they would be appealing no matter who was in hearing range, and they were designed to be vague enough to sound like an answer to the child’s question, even if the response was completely irrelevant. “Something went wrong in the Tickle-Me-Rubio brain center,” an Establishments-R-Us spokesman said. “The doll could only make one statement over and over again.”

Read Full Post »