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Miscarriage of Justice

July 16, 2009

Are the Sotomayor hearings over yet? Because the dog and pony show the Senate has been running over the last few days has been anything but enlightening. They started off with Lindsey Graham saying that unless she winds up on all fours on the floor of the chamber sniffing Larry Craig’s panties she is going to be confirmed. And then they proceed with several days worth of insipid grandstanding and inane questioning about personal matters and wedge issues, in response to which we are treated with meaningless canoodling using phraseology from an already dead language in an attempt to kill off the current one and nobody comes away any the wiser.

Jonathan Turley thinks it’s all Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fault and calls for a little more substance.

The content-light character in these hearings is largely the product of the “Ginsburg rule” — named after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who refused to answer questions in her 1993 confirmation hearing about any case or matter upon which she might later vote. Backed by a Democratic majority, she simply declared, “I’m not going to give an advisory opinion on any specific scenario because as clear as it may seem to you, I think I have to avoid responding to hypotheticals because they may prove not to be so hypothetical.”

~snip~

There is a simple solution to returning substance to the confirmation process: End the Ginsburg rule by insisting that nominees answer questions about their specific views on constitutional rights. The only basis for refusing to be forthright should be limited to questions regarding how a nominee would vote on pending cases.

I concur – if you want to be the next Warren Berger you should be required to tell us where the beef is. And the Senate inquisitors need to ask better questions. No more baloney about whether the nominee has enough or too many minority friends. No more foolishness about whether blind grandmas should be allowed to own uzis and if so how many. And enough with the demogoguery over Roe v. Wade.

All these questions about wedge social issues are used by the already powerful to divide and conquer the rest of us and the really important questions go unasked. We pretend that we are a classless society while at the same time economic circumstances allow all of us to be exploited by the already wealthy.

It’s high time our nominees to the highest court in the land were asked and made to answer questions about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which was intended to expand the rights of those who had seen them denied at this nation’s founding, but instead was distorted to give the rights of personhood to manmade accounting institutions designed to turn a profit.

Whether a corporation should continue to have the same and often more rights as a flesh and blood human being is the discussion this nation needs to have. One of the greatest ironies of our nation’s history is that the amendment designed to end the inequalities of slavery and create a more equitable society has been twisted to make all of us wage slaves and equally powerless. Until this issue is addressed, we will not see the changes needed in issues of privacy or campaign finance reform or environmental policy or health care or military spending and there will be no Justice no matter who is appointed by our supercilious Senators to warm a seat on the Supreme Court bench.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. triv33 permalink
    July 17, 2009 9:35 am

    Four days of eye-glazing, ass-numbing bullshit that tells me nothing about what kind of justice we’re getting and everything about what kind of fuckknuckles our Senators are. Hope you had a nice vacation, cometman.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 17, 2009 12:02 pm

      Thanks triv, I did have a very nice few days off and the sun was even gracious enough to finally come out!

      And excellent swearing BTW – I noticed you guys were practicing while I was gone :P Stephen Colbert mentioned that story about how cursing eases the pain last night and made a crack that the amount of pain that you feel is inversely proportional to the number of middle names you give to Jesus. Just watching a few short clips of the Senate hearings made me invoke Jeebus H Q lapdancing baldheaded buttsniffing Xrist several times.

      • Stemella permalink*
        July 17, 2009 3:46 pm

        Triv kicks butt when it comes to cussing. I think we’re all pretty good at it though!

        We all have our own regional flavors. :)

  2. cometman permalink*
    July 17, 2009 12:29 pm

    Check out Dennis Kucinich in the video at the end of this Rawstory article. He rips into Paulson over the BofA/Merrill merger and to me and I’d imagine to anyone else with a couple grams of gray matter it’s very clear what he’s saying. But that doesn’t stop the CNBC gasbag from trying to claim that viewers and investors simply couldn’t understand the problem and so Kucinich rips into him too. Fuck ’em up Denny.

    The article also mentions a number of others who’ve been tearing into Goldman recently. Jon Stewart had a nice bit about the leeches at Goldman Sux last night too which you can see here and he also manages to explain quite clearly that their gigantic profits aren’t due to their own financial brilliance, contrary to the claims of the bootlicking obsequitrons on CNBC.

  3. triv33 permalink
    July 17, 2009 12:49 pm

    Did you see the bit Stewart did on Lenny Dykstra? I was pissing my pants. I know he was one of my World Series Phils, but man, I always thought he was king dumb.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 18, 2009 7:38 am

      I missed that one. Throw up a link to it if you remember what day it was on. I did read this article in ESPN about Dykstra’s failing schemes a few months back – was that what Jon Stewart was talking about too? That article made Dykstra sound like a miniaturized version of all the failing investment banks except so far at least nobody has bailed Dykstra out. And since Lenny was also a member of the 86 Mets who beat my beloved Sawx, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy :)

      And speaking of the Phils, I saw that Ryan Howard hit his 200th career home run the other day, and reached that milestone way faster than anyone in history. That kid is sure fun to watch play.

      • triv33 permalink
        July 18, 2009 12:42 pm

        For your viewing pleasure, Stewart’s take on the thparkplug!
        http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-july-14-2009/lenny-dykstra-s-financial-career
        I only get away games because of the satanic deal that Comcast still has with the Phils and I have DirecTV.

        • cometman permalink*
          July 20, 2009 5:51 am

          Ha! You’ve got to be kidding me that Cramer gave Lenny the big thumbs up. What a fucking idiot.

          • triv33 permalink
            July 20, 2009 6:37 am

            Hee Hee! I thought you would find that most amusing! Brilliant, he said.Pffft!

  4. cometman permalink*
    July 17, 2009 12:56 pm

    Check out the figures cited in this article about how the ongoing class war in this country is progressing. Guess who’s winning?

    “The source of wealth has changed over the past 30 years; corporations have become the engine of inequality in the U.S.,” says Sam Pizzigati, associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.

    ~snip~

    The highest incomes come from executive pay at top corporations. In 2007, the ratio of CEO pay to the average paycheck was 344 to 1, lower than the record 525 to 1 ratio set in 2001, but substantial.

    This year’s ratio is estimated to decrease to 317 to 1. In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, the average ratio fluctuated between 30 and 40 to 1.

    ~snip~

    Corporations systematically created a wealth gap over the last 30 years. In 1955, IRS records indicated the 400 richest people in the country were worth an average $12.6 million, adjusted for inflation.

    In 2006, the 400 richest increased their average to $263 million, representing an epochal shift of wealth upward in the U.S.
    In 1955, the richest tier paid an average 51.2 percent of their income in taxes under a progressive federal income tax that included loopholes. By 2006, the richest paid only 17.2 percent of their income in taxes. In 1955, the proportion of federal income from corporate taxes was 33 percent; by 2003, it decreased to 7.4 percent.

    ~snip~

    Meanwhile, wages for most Americans didn’t improve from 1979 to 1998, and the median male wage in 2000 was below the 1979 level, despite productivity increases of 44.5 percent. Between 2002 and 2004, inflation-adjusted median household income declined $1,669 a year. To make up for lost income, credit card debt soared 315 percent between 1989 and 2006, representing 138 percent of disposable income in 2007.

    According to Pizzigati, the wealth disparity is the result of corporations squeezing more profits from workers.
    “In the past corporations laid off workers because business was bad,” Pizzigati says. “But over the past few decades, downsizing has been a corporate wealth generating strategy. Today, CEOs don’t spend their time trying to make better products: they maneuver to take over other companies, steal their customers and fire their workers.”

    And for the asshole who made the first comment after the article, I’d like to strangle the guy with his own hamstrings after I sliced them at the ankles and ripped them out of his legs. “Achievers” my ass. How hard is it to win when you’re the house and everyone else is playing with the loaded dice you handed out?

  5. cometman permalink*
    July 17, 2009 1:20 pm

    Arundhati Roy has a great new article and it seems that India is having the same problems with corporations taking over their democracy, or what’s left of it, as we are in the US. Definitely worth reading the whole thing – Into the Inferno: Hollow language and Hollow Democracies.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 18, 2009 2:49 pm

      That is a very good article –

      “Freedom” has come to mean “choice”. It has less to do with the human spirit than it does with different brands of deodorant. “Market” no longer means a place where you go to buy provisions. The “market” is a de-territorialised space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling “futures”. “Justice” has come to mean “human rights” (and of those, as they say, “a few will do”).

      This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the tsars of the new dispensation.

      Just as the terms democrat, liberal and progressive not to mention conservative and repuplican have come to represent a brand altogether different from their ideological foundations. They too are products and brands, represented by which channel you choose (there is that choice thing) to watch on TV or which blog you choose to read on the net. They are all similar products with different brand names and are detached from what they were supposed to be originally, whether whole wheat bread or orange juice, given all the weird chemical additives that are supposedly good for you and good for the price, but give you chronic disease in the end.

      Democracy and Capitalism grew up together, but they were never intended to meld into a single being. The marriage of the two was called fascismo by Mussolini. This 21st century version is its spawn, a miscarriage that has survived like some creature of the undead, some vampire, some zombie and I don’t know how the hell we are going to kill it without killing all of ourselves. It has become our host and we are its leeches, sucking away at the juices of electricity, gasoline, rivers, lakes and dwindling reservoirs. In kind we pay out in blood, sweat and tears, which are converted into market derivatives that are force fed back to us like vulture vomit down our gullets.

      It is madness and can come to no good end. Poor India, Poor Pakistan. Poor America. Poor world. We are all gagging on zombie vulture vomit. Bring on the killer squid.

  6. Stemella permalink*
    July 17, 2009 3:44 pm

    Nice post and creepy picture!

    I watched the second day of the hearings, first day of questions, and Russ Feingold did satisfy my own interests when he asked Sotomajor several questions about Executive Powers, including FISA, the Patriot Act, the Gitmo cases etc. I was pretty disappointed in how much Sotomajor deflected these questions. He brought up a case that happened during Truman’s Admin where he wanted to take over the steel mills, a definite overreach. She seemed not to know the case at all.

    Perhaps she could have answered clearly, but chose not to in order to avoid Republican hounding in response. Perhaps she answered as clearly as she could. I did not feel confident or comforted with her responses in any case.

    I turned off the volume as soon as I heard Cornhole and Graham. They both got shoes in the face, whammo! fwap fwap!

    Hey, have a great weekend all!

  7. Stemella permalink*
    July 18, 2009 2:18 pm

    They’re Back and it looks like they aren’t leaving.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 20, 2009 6:05 am

      Always nice to see that the populations of at least some animals are flourishing. Maybe they’re just waiting for part of California to break off into the ocean so they can have a really nice meal.

  8. Stemella permalink*
    July 18, 2009 8:06 pm

    Ummm, just watch it

    • cometman permalink*
      July 20, 2009 6:18 am

      Ha ha! That was awesome. Not quite sure what it all means yet – I’ll have to watch it again later tonight after I’ve had a little “attitude adjuster” and see if it all comes together :P

  9. cometman permalink*
    July 20, 2009 6:52 am

    The situation in Honduras is progressing pretty much as I had suspected – the BBC reports that talks have completely broken down. Zelaya is open to the compromise that Costa Rican president Arias has proposed but it was rejected by the coup leaders.

    “It was not possible to reach a satisfactory agreement,” said President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, who is leading mediations and has presented both parties with a seven-point proposal.

    “The Zelaya delegation fully accepted my proposal, but not that of [interim President] Don Roberto Micheletti.”

    Mr Arias has warned of possible civil war if the talks fail and urged both sides to continue.

    The US remains tone deaf:

    The US, which has supported Mr Zelaya, urged the political rivals to reflect on the “significant progress” made at the talks and to “commit themselves to their successful conclusion”.

    The part of the compromise mentioned in the article seems pretty reasonable to me:

    He said Mr Micheletti’s side objected in particular to the first point of Mr Arias’s plan, which proposes “the legitimate restitution” of Mr Zelaya as the head of a reconciliation government until early elections are held in October.

    Zelaya is reinstated but would have to face early elections. Sounds like the coup leaders know they wouldn’t win in a legitimate election. So what is the US doing about all this? Well, as they say out of one side of their mouths that they support Zelaya, they still contintue to train the same Honduran military that started the coup.

    A controversial facility at Ft. Benning, Ga. — formerly known as the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas — is still training Honduran officers despite claims by the Obama administration that it cut military ties to Honduras after its president was overthrown June 28, NCR has learned.

    A day after an SOA-trained army general ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint, President Barack Obama stated that “the coup was not legal” and that Zelaya remained “the democratically elected president.”

    The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act requires that U.S. military aid and training be suspended when a country undergoes a military coup, and the Obama administration has indicated those steps have been taken.
    However, Lee Rials, public affairs officer for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the successor of SOA, confirmed Monday that Honduran officers are still being trained at the school.

    “Yes, they’re in class now,” Rials said.

    Asked about the Obama administration’s suspension of aid and training to Honduras, Rials said, “Well, all I know is they’re here, and they’re in class.”

    ~snip~

    The ongoing training of Hondurans at Ft. Benning is not the only evidence of unbroken U.S.-Honduran military ties since the coup.

    Another piece was discovered by Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch, while on fact-finding mission to Honduras last week.

    Bourgeois — accompanied by two lawyers, Kent Spriggs and Dan Kovalik — visited the Soto Cano/Palmerola Air Base northwest of Tegucigalpa, where the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force-Bravo is stationed.

    “Helicopters were flying all around, and we spoke with the U.S. official on duty, a Sgt. Reyes” about the U.S.-Honduran relationship, Bourgeois said. “We asked him if anything had changed since the coup and he said no, nothing.”

  10. cometman permalink*
    July 20, 2009 7:14 am

    Yikes! Huge blobs of Artic goo! And nobody knows yet just exactly what it is.

    Something big and strange is floating through the Chukchi Sea between Wainwright and Barrow.

    Hunters from Wainwright first started noticing the stuff sometime probably early last week. It’s thick and dark and “gooey” and is drifting for miles in the cold Arctic waters, according to Gordon Brower with the North Slope Borough’s Planning and Community Services Department.

    ~snip~

    Nobody knows for sure what the gunk is, but Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer says the Coast Guard is sure what it is not.

    “It’s certainly biological,” Hasenauer said. “It’s definitely not an oil product of any kind. It has no characteristics of an oil, or a hazardous substance, for that matter.

    “It’s definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, it’s some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism.”

    Something else: No one in Barrow or Wainwright can remember seeing anything like this before, Brower said.

    ~snip~

    “From the air it looks brownish with some sheen, but when you get close and put it up on the ice and in the bucket, it’s kind of blackish stuff … (and) has hairy strands on it.”

    Well at least it’s black goo and not grey goo. But if some of the grey stuff does turn up there’s still time to repent and be saved.

    The Grey Goo is eternal. It is omniscient and omnipresent. It may
    be the uncontrolled spread of buggy self-assembling Nanotechnology,
    but perhaps it is also the cloud of super-intelligence that will
    out-evolve humanity.

    You must learn to love the Goo, for it loves you.

    You shall become as one with the Goo. It is your destiny.

    I bet this stuff has a lot more noodly appendages than the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Better hedge my bets and join up with these guys too :P

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 20, 2009 6:59 pm

      Great oogly boogly. It must be snot from outer space. It must have something to do with Sarah Palin. Goo betcha!

  11. cometman permalink*
    July 20, 2009 7:31 am

    Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. The more you know, the more fucking pissed off you get about how the entire system is rigged against you and in favor of big corporations. Pam Martens today on the mandatory arbitration system that is used as a substitute for giving people their day in court when they have a beef against a big company:

    For the past 18 years, a motley mix of corporate law firms, Wall Street powerhouses and private justice providers have been serving up false testimony to the highest court of our land that mandatory arbitration is “inexpensive, fast and fair” and a proper substitute for the public court system. And for 18 years a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has been cozying up to these brazenly preposterous statements while gutting our Constitution’s Seventh Amendment guarantee to a jury trial. In doing so, wittingly or unwittingly, the Supreme Court had aided and abetted the key linchpin of a wealth transfer system that has brought the nfation to its knees.

    Today, everything from Wall Street brokerage accounts, employment contracts, credit cards, mortgages, even cell phone contracts have routinely removed the individual’s constitutional right to file a claim in court to seek redress of a grievance or fraudulent action. Instead, the individual’s claim is forced into one of the privately run arbitration organizations where conflicts are rampant, discovery is limited, and the right to appeal is typically impossible because the arbitrators are not required to explain the rationale for their decisions in writing.

    In a saner era, these mandatory arbitration contracts would be thrown out by courts as contracts of adhesion because they were offered on a take it or leave it basis. Under any rational interpretation of contract law, contracts must be a meeting of the minds, freely entered into, between parties of equal bargaining power.

    But just as profits have been privatized on Wall Street and losses socialized, the right to a jury trial in a court system paid for by individual taxpayers is now increasingly reserved for corporations, not people. It’s a form of judicial apartheid not dissimilar to the way the Supreme Court rationalized the segregation of blacks in its Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, promising “equal” facilities, just separate.

    She describes several cases in detail and mentions how the National Arbitration Forum is rigged to favor certain ‘famous parties’:

    Who are these so-called “Famous Parties?” According to Attorney General Swanson’s lawsuit, the National Arbitration Forum has among its clients, MBNA/Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup; those same “infamous” parties deemed too big to fail by the Federal government, thus entitling them to the public purse as a lifeline.

    Surprise surprise.

  12. Stemella permalink*
    July 20, 2009 7:06 pm

    Could it be possible? A cheer worthy Obama appointee?

    Nominee to lead park service has deep roots in West

    He pisses off the right people :)

    When the Bush administration sought to make significant changes in the park service’s management plan to open the door to commercialization and upgrade the focus on the parks as vacation destinations at the likely expense of natural and cultural resources, Jarvis pushed back forcefully.

    “He put his position at risk,” said Uberuaga. “It was one you needed to fall on your sword for, and he did.”

    “He pushed the envelope on this, and the previous administration didn’t like it,” said Smith of National Parks Conservation Association.

    Jarvis angered Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., earlier this year over an expiring lease for an oyster farming operation at Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco. Feinstein wants the lease extended.

    In a May letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Feinstein said she found park service actions “troubling and unacceptable” in light of a National Research Council report that said the park had exaggerated the negative effects of the farm.

    Jarvis subsequently apologized, but he denied the park service had deliberately misrepresented any data.

    Going to check see if Melvin has written up something on him.

  13. Stemella permalink*
    July 22, 2009 6:05 am

    Interesting piece on Biden, the Ukraine, Russia and Georgia here

    thinking back to the Go Fish post.

    and then there is this: Timoshenko, Biden discuss US fuel supplies for Ukraine’s n-plants

    interestink

    • cometman permalink*
      July 22, 2009 10:17 am

      Very interesting. I’m sure his interest in the area is just because he wants to bring them all Amtrak or something. Probably has nothing to do with his ties to filthy lobbyists like Stephen Payne. Really wish we could find what those guys have been up to since they got busted last year.

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