Monday, June 23, 2008

So Long and Thanks for the Laughter and the Insight

For those of us who don’t take the world at face value today is a sad day indeed. George Carlin, the voice that woke me up to the bull that the world puts up in front of your eyes to hide the way things are, passed away Sunday from heart failure.

I remember the first time I saw him doing stand-up. I was maybe 13 or 14 years old. He made me laugh until my sides hurt. After it was done and I started to think about what he had been discussing, I realized that there was much more to his talk than simply humor. There were concepts and thoughts swimming below the surface of that humor that the people it was aimed at would probably never recognize.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of his material was just plain old blue humor. I am reminded of the list of 7 dirty words that over the years had grown to over 2000 words that people found vulgar or obscene. It took him almost 5 minutes to read it. His delivery while simply reading a list of words made me nearly hurt myself laughing. But thinking back the thing that makes it so very funny is that they are just words, but words that people find offensive. The list pointed out how stupid we, as humans can be to find words bothersome.

I’m still at kind of a loss here. I almost feel like I have lost a childhood friend. I am embedding a clip here. It is NOT WORK SAFE nor is it child safe, so please exercise some restraint. In a perfect world, the words in this clip shouldn’t even matter, but the world is as the world is.

He was due to receive a Mark Twain award in November. I think that the celebration should still be held and the award given posthumously. This man deserves it for the influence and the endurance of his career.

He will be missed.







If you're a fan you might check this out. I think it would be well worth the cash. If you've never really seen him before, it would be well worth your time to rent a few of his dvds.

George Carlin's All My Stuff


Tole

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dammit Dammit Dammit

I'm so friggin mad I can't even put together enough cohernet thought to express my anger. SO I will let Justice Scalia say it for me.


Various excerpts (citations omitted) from Justice Scalia’s dissent (joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito):

Today, for the first time in our Nation's history, the Court confers a constitutional right to habeas corpus on alien enemies detained abroad by our military forces in the course of an ongoing war…. The writ of habeas corpus does not, and never has, run in favor of aliens abroad; the Suspension Clause thus has no application, and the Court's intervention in this military matter is entirely ultra vires.
The game of bait-and-switch that today's opinion plays upon the Nation's Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed. That consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic. But it is this Court's blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today. The President relied on our settled precedent in Johnson v. Eisentrager (1950), when he established the prison at Guantanamo Bay for enemy aliens.

[I]n response [to the Court’s 2006 ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld], Congress, at the President's request, quickly enacted the Military Commissions Act, emphatically reasserting that it did not want these prisoners filing habeas petitions. It is therefore clear that Congress and the Executive—both political branches—have determined that limiting the role of civilian courts in adjudicating whether prisoners captured abroad are properly detained is important to success in the war that some 190,000 of our men and women are now fighting…. What competence does the Court have to second-guess the judgment of Congress and the President on such a point? None whatever. But the Court blunders in nonetheless. Henceforth, as today's opinion makes unnervingly clear, how to handle enemy prisoners in this war will ultimately lie with the branch that knows least about the national security concerns that the subject entails.

What drives today's decision is neither the meaning of the Suspension Clause, nor the principles of our precedents, but rather an inflated notion of judicial supremacy. The Court says that if the extraterritorial applicability of the Suspension Clause turned on formal notions of sovereignty, "it would be possible for the political branches to govern without legal constraint" in areas beyond the sovereign territory of the United States. That cannot be, the Court says, because it is the duty of this Court to say what the law is. It would be difficult to imagine a more question-begging analysis.… Our power "to say what the law is" is circumscribed by the limits of our statutorily and constitutionally conferred jurisdiction. And that is precisely the question in these cases: whether the Constitution confers habeas jurisdiction on federal courts to decide petitioners' claims. It is both irrational and arrogant to say that the answer must be yes, because otherwise we would not be supreme.

Putting aside the conclusive precedent of Eisentrager, it is clear that the original understanding of the Suspension Clause was that habeas corpus was not available to aliens abroad, as Judge Randolph's thorough opinion for the court below detailed.… It is entirely clear that, at English common law, the writ of habeas corpus did not extend beyond the sovereign territory of the Crown.

Today the Court warps our Constitution in a way that goes beyond the narrow issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause, invoking judicially brainstormed separation-of-powers principles to establish a manipulable "functional" test for the extraterritorial reach of habeas corpus (and, no doubt, for the extraterritorial reach of other constitutional protections as well). It blatantly misdescribes important precedents, most conspicuously Justice Jackson's opinion for the Court in Johnson v. Eisentrager. It breaks a chain of precedent as old as the common law that prohibits judicial inquiry into detentions of aliens abroad absent statutory authorization. And, most tragically, it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner. The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.



Tole