And in Texas, what works is to swagger around like a tough guy, propagating a barely literate reading of the United States Constitution, and pretend to hate the federal government. And you rail about the rights that have been taken away, without being able to name one. And you publicly entertain having your state secede from the United States, and issue dire warnings about the galloping socialism in the land, and rage at the federal stimulus package and make a show of refusing to accept any of it, while quietly taking a cool $28 billion.

It is the refuge of a scoundrel to pretend to hate government, and further, to lie about the role that the American government — the richest and most powerful force for good in the long story of humanity — has played in the creation of the most profound economic engine ever, the America middle class. Notions of American greatness are inextricably intertwined with the American government, and anyone who claims that the government has only been an impediment to American progress is a liar, a fool, a rank opportunist, or a combination of the three. That GI Bill didn’t create itself. That Interstate Highway System didn’t build itself. Those astronauts didn’t send themselves to the moon. Your grandmamma and them didn’t get electricity in their farmhouse on their own initiative. Small business didn’t create a vast system of free public education, because an educated population makes for good workers and consumers. That was the government. The miracle of the free market didn’t end slavery, or solve the pernicious problem that followed of grotesquely institutionalized racism. Nor did the free market end child labor, and decide that food and worker safety were critical values to a civilized society, and essential to a civilized standard of living. That was the government, too.

There was a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, when Texas state leaders like former lieutenant governors Ben Barnes and Bill Hobby (both conservative Democrats) would go around the state explaining the tax bills that they were proposing to the people. Explaining that every dollar they proposed to take in in taxes would yield $8 on return of investment, because when you invest in people and infrastructure, you create the conditions for growth. And the people were enthusiastic for this arrangement, because most people know a good deal when they see it, and anyway, most folks used to have a strong notion of the ‘common good.’ That, of course, is the story of how this country was built, no matter how reactionary counter-narratives mangle the tale.”


Besides being Willie Horton on steroids, the ad against Janice Hahn is also based upon a complete fallacy.

10.29 [update]: see also.


Texas Congressional Representative Louie Gohmert responding to Obama’s declaration thatwe do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”


Rep. Gohmert’s response to Rep. Patrick Murphy’s  call for floor speeches regarding the possibility of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which requires all military service men and women who happen to be gay to keep their sexual orientation secret or be dishonorably discharged.

In other words:



Dr. Hern photographed by Jamie Kripke

“This was a cold-blooded, brutal, political assassination that is the logical consequence of thirty-five years of hate speech and incitement to violence by people from the highest levels of American society, including but in no way limited to George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Bill O’Reilly, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson.”

This is required reading for anyone who earnestly believes in the importance of freedom from the tyranny of religious zealotry. The pro-oppression Christianists who consistently beat the drum of hatred and ignorance about abortion providers and consumers in this country are at worst outright terrorists and at best terrorist sympathizers; i.e., financial and emotional supporters of “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

Whoever declared irony dead apparently never foresaw our government’s respect for the Rule of Law being shredded by the very public servants entrusted to uphold it, directly resulting in the absurdity of an unrepentant war criminal threatening arrest upon civilly disobedient pranksters for having the temerity to point out this contradiction.

Furthermore, how impaired is our national sense of moral outrage that we need Australians to come to America in order to get anyone to pay attention to the absurdity of  allowing war criminals like John Yoo and Dick Cheney to walk about with impunity?

Just like we needed the Spanish government to get any substantive discussion of our governing war criminals being indicted:

But the decision on whether to begin a criminal investigation of the six officials will be made by an investigating judge. In this case, that is likely to be Baltasar Garzón, who has ignored opinions of politicians and law enforcement officials before. Spain’s best-known judge, he gained international fame by achieving the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998.

Lawyers at the court said they now expected a tug of war within the court and between judges and politicians.

Madrid’s National Court is somewhat set apart from the country’s regular court system. As the top criminal court, it deals with cases that are international in scope, including terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking and human rights violations. The suit against the six Americans was filed at this court by a group of human rights lawyers in March, and until this week it appeared to be moving ahead unhindered.

Last week, the prosecutors gave the green light for legal action, according to lawyers who saw a draft of their review. The draft said that Spain had jurisdiction under international law, including under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and that there was enough evidence of wrongdoing for a criminal investigation to proceed, those who saw the legal opinion said. In addition, five former Guantánamo inmates, three of them Spanish citizens and two Spanish residents, have said that they were tortured.

But that green light turned red on Thursday, when Spain’s attorney general, Cáandido Conde-Pumpido, told journalists that he was opposed to an investigation.

He argued that the proper forum for any criminal actions would be American courts. And, citing what he called flaws in the complaint, he insisted that the focus of investigation should be on the interrogators who actually mistreated detainees.

That appeared to put him at odds with President Obama, who the same day sought to reassure C.I.A. operatives that they would not be prosecuted for using brutal interrogation methods if they had acted on official legal advice.

Or recall how the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was forced to utilize the German justice system to open serious consideration of war crime charges against Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. government officials for authorizing torture at Abu Ghraib:

The complaint is brought on behalf of 12 torture victims – 12 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantánamo detainee – and is being filed by CCR, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Republican Attorneys’ Association (RAV), and others, all represented by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck.


In November 2007, CCR, FIDH, and RAV appealed the decision of the German Federal Prosecutor not to open an investigation. On April 21, 2009, the Stuttgart Regional Appeals Court dismissed the appeal. See the original and the translated Court decision attached below. A motion for reconsideration was filed on May 25, 2009.

And why was the CCR forced to rely on German Federal Prosecutors to bring charges that the U.S. government violated international criminal law?

The United States has refused to join the International Criminal Court, thereby foreclosing the option of pursuing a prosecution before it. Iraq has no authority to prosecute. Furthermore, the U.S. gave immunity to all its personnel in Iraq from Iraqi prosecution. All this added to the United States’ unquestionable refusal to look at the responsibility of those of the very top of the chain of command and named in the present complaint, and the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 aimed at preventing war crimes prosecutions against Americans in the U.S., German courts are seen as a last resort to obtain justice for those victims of abuse and torture while detained by the United States.

And finally, of course, we needed an Iraqi journalist to exquisitely express exactly how a majority of Americans felt by the end of 2008 about George Bush and his illegal invasion of Iraq:

But getting back to those wonderful Australians, I couldn’t help but notice the classroom reaction to the John Yoo stunt was less than supportive of the merry pranksters. Despite the fact that this was a Constitutional Law class, some student can be heard whining about how the protesters were “cutting into my time”, followed by applause apparently for Professor Yoo’s stirring riposte that the protester was putting himself in the position…of protesting Yoo’s support for torture…or something. Ha-ha, take that you dirty hippie!

I know law students usually don’t have a lot of control over who teaches their core doctrinal courses and I also understand the motivation to not threaten one’s final grade by unnecessarily pissing off one’s professor, but neither of these facts demand active support of the piece of shit either. Perhaps they hadn’t yet covered that part of the Constitution regarding the Free Speech Clause, or for that matter, Due Process.

More than likely, these students who chose to take a course taught by a shameless idealogue who advocates demonstratively deficient legal theories on Executive power, simply failed to develop the moral compass necessary to ascertain what’s plainly wrong about a person like John Yoo holding any professional post anywhere.

And I think the question we must ask ourselves, as a society, is why would these students develop that type of moral clarity while coming of age during the last eight years of political depravity? After all, John Yoo should be at the very least disbarred and reduced to a pariah for his role in discrediting any claim to superior morality this country had prior to the election of George W. Bush. Instead he teaches law courses at respected institutions, and writes a monthly column for the Philadelphia Enquirer as if nothing horribly wrong ever occurred.

I can’t help but wonder how our political leaders and politically conscious citizens would have reacted to a John Yoo 65 years ago, when the U.S. had the type of leadership that insisted on open trials for war criminals, including characters like Yoo, who dutifully aid and abet human atrocities behind the pretense of objectivity supposedly granted by their law degrees.

In the end, I think we all could take a page from the less tractable undergrads at Stanford: