American liberty took one more punch to the gut yesterday when the Supreme Court decided that Americans can’t sue the government’s spy machine in court:
A sharply-divided Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out an attempt by U.S. citizens to challenge the expansion of a surveillance law used to monitor conversations of foreign spies and terrorist suspects.
With a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled that a group of American lawyers, journalists and organizations can’t sue to challenge the 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because they can’t prove that the government will monitor their conversations along with those of potential foreign terrorist and intelligence targets.
The outcome was the first in the current Supreme Court term to divide along ideological lines, with the conservative justices prevailing.
Justices “have been reluctant to endorse standing theories that require guesswork,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the court’s majority.
From the Associated Press:
An appeals court has issued a ruling that upholds the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers in Arizona for driving under the influence even when there is no evidence that they are actually high.
The ruling by the Court of Appeals focuses on the chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests after people smoke pot. One chemical compound causes drivers to be impaired; another is a chemical that stays in people’s systems for weeks after they’ve smoked marijuana but doesn’t affect impairment.
The court ruled that both compounds apply to Arizona law, meaning a driver doesn’t have to actually be impaired to get prosecuted for DUI. As long as there is evidence of marijuana in their system, they can get a DUI, the court said.
The ruling overturns a decision by a lower court judge who said it didn’t make sense to prosecute a person with no evidence they’re under the influence.
Apparently, to the Court of Appeals, sense is irrelevant.
This is what it’s come down to: even when you’re innocent, you’re guilty. Welcome to American Legal System 2.0. It appears George Orwell was right.
H/T: Hit & Run
Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.
The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.
They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?
They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.
Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.
The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.
From the “For [Expletive]’s Sake” Department, comes this bill that would make cigarettes “prescription-only”:
If you’re a regular smoker, you may want to keep an eye on a new bill in the Oregon Legislature.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, from Portland, is sponsoring a bill that makes cigarettes a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning it would be illegal to possess or distribute cigarettes without a doctor’s prescription.
Under the proposal, offenders would face maximum punishments of one year in prison, a $6,250 fine or both.
Other drugs and substances that are considered Schedule III controlled substances are ketamine, lysergic acid and anabolic steroids.
“The State Board of Pharmacy may adopt rules placing requirements and limitations on the sale or transfer of products containing nicotine,” the bill’s text says.
That’s right, they want to make tobacco just as illegal as LSD, Special K, and steroids—and they want to force you to get a doctor’s note before you light up. This, coming in the wake of legalization referenda passing in Washington state and Colorado, is the height of lunacy. So we’re going to legalize weed and criminalize tobacco? Under what form of logic does that make sense?
I love this line from Rick Cannon, who supports the bill:
“I hope it passes and I hope people actually think about it,” said Rick Cannon of Salem. “You know there’s less and less smokers everyday because they know how bad it is for them, so I just hope people wake up and realize how bad it actually is for them.”
As the presidential inauguration comes upon us today, I can’t help but think that we’re seeing Bush’s fourth term. Barack Obama, while talking up a good liberal game on international peace and social issues, is really quite similar to his Republican predecessor. He has widely broadened the use of drones pioneered with Bush 43. His signing of the NDAA act authorizing indefinite detention is merely a sequel to the PATRIOT Act Bush signed in 2001. And his recent executive orders on guns have elicited much the same outrage from conservatives that liberals had over Bush’s signing statements.
Combined with staying the course on military spending, staying the course on not making any significant reforms to entitlements, staying the course on the War on Drugs, and staying the course on corporate bailouts…
…and I’m wondering if George W. Bush ever left.
Certainly, there are differences. George W. Bush championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while the Obama Administration has just given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama is also far more supportive of a woman’s right to choose, while George W. Bush was pro-life (mostly). But on nearly all other issues, ranging from torture, to war, to government spending, our 44th president is little more than an “expansion pack” to our 43rd — doing the same things, only worse.
Yet again, local law enforcement, driven by the increasingly inane, stupid, counterproductive, and unethical “War on Drugs,” have shown they have no class or decency by busting in on a dying woman to confiscate her perscription drugs:
A man says Vernal police disrupted an intimate moment of mourning with his deceased wife of 58 years when they searched his house for her prescription medication without a warrant within minutes of her death.
Barbara Alice Mahaffey died of colon cancer in her bedroom last May. Ben D. Mahaffey, 80, said he was distraught and trying to make sure his wife’s body would be taken to the funeral home with dignity, when he says officers insisted he help them look for the drugs.
“I was holding her hand saying goodbye when all the intrusion happened,” he told the Deseret News.
Barbara Mahaffey died at 12:35 a.m. with Mahaffey, a Navy medic in the Korean War, and his friend, an EMT, at her side. In addition to police, a mortician and a hospice worker arrived at the home about 12:45 a.m., Mahaffey said. He said he doesn’t know how police came to be there.
“I was indignant to think you can’t even have a private moment. All these people were there and they’re not concerned about her or me. They’re concerned about the damn drugs. Isn’t that something?” Mahaffey said.
Mahaffey said he was treated as if he were going to sell the painkillers, which included OxyContin, oxycodone and morphine, on the street.
“I had no interest in the drugs,” he said. “I’m no addict.”
Sunday, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre went on NBC’s Meet The Press to talk about gun control with David Gregory, which is a pretty hostile environment for that sort of interview. As Kevin Boyd noted, LaPierre is essentially acting like he’s drunk, following an abysmal NRA press conference last Friday that left everything to be desired. But it may be that David Gregory will be paying the price, as the Washington Post reports:
NBC News asked D.C. police for permission to use a high-capacity ammunition clip as a prop on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” show, a request District authorities said Wednesday they denied.
But host David Gregory appears to have used one anyway — and then displayed it on national television. Now D.C. police say they’re investigating whether the District’s gun laws were violated in the incident.
It is now official: the official blog of POS hipsters everywhere has crossed a line. Gawker blogger Max Read has said, in response to the video of Fox News comedian Steven Crowder being punched in the face by a union thug:
Steven, stop whining, take your licks, and accept that getting hit in the face is a hazard of inserting yourself in the middle of an argument between billionaire-funded know-nothing ideologues and people whose livelihoods and stability are being threatened by the insatiable greed of the super-rich and the blind extremism of their wooden-headed political allies. In exchange, liberals will buy you a band-aid for the cut on your forehead and re-iterate that Punching Is Bad. Sound good? Send your answer on Twitter.
So let me get this straight, Max—because Steven was on the other side, promoting free markets and the right for individuals to choose whether to join a union or not, he should have expected to get punched in the face?
Okay, then, Max. Going by your logic, because you’re on the other side, promoting union thugs forcing people to join their union and pay union dues—you know, kidnapping, stealing, extortion, that sort of thing—you should expect to be punched in the face.
In fact, I say we make this happen. I want to see this Max come out to a protest and get decked in the face. I want to see a meaty fist smash into his precious little nose and see how he likes it. And if he ever bitches about it, he agrees to pay $50 per word in his blog post to United Liberty, and an additional $100 per word to Steven Crowder.
A commentator going by the handle of “Travis” posted an, shall I say “intriguing” comment on my recent post about Grover Norquist. Travis writes:
This has nothing to do with the evil media, this has everything to do with elections.
Your slash-taxes-and-government policy preferences were put up to a vote earlier this month, and they lost. The American people re-elected a president who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting entitlements and preserving government services.
This is just the bandwagon fallacy.
To illustrate my point, let me put it to you this way: Suppose Candidate A (for a naughty word Jason says I cannot type) campaigns on a platform of fixing our economy by killing all the poor people. Now, let’s say that, for whatever reason, a majority of Americans disagree with Candidate A’s policy position, yet, strangely, they end up electing him into office anyways. Does this mean that Candidate A’s policy to kill the poor is the right thing to do?
That was a rhetorical question, there’s really no need to answer.
Yes, Obama won the election. But just because a guy wins what is essentially a popularity contest does not mean that his policies are ipso facto the right ones and everyone else should roll over and play dead. I guarantee you that liberals would not have done that if Romney won, as they did not do it when Bush won (particularly after 2004, when he won the popular vote.)