Thursday, September 17, 2009

Looking For Sanity And Statesmanship In The Congress.

Looking For Sanity And Statesmanship In The Congress.

“I think I have a better chance at finding a Kosher Pig!”

Frank Schaeffer On Rachel Maddow

Frank Schaeffer: GOP & A Subculture Of Insanity: Frank Schaeffer Offers A Penetrating Look At The Devolution Of The Modern Day Republican Party.

Ashcroft Can Be Held Accountable For Post-9/11 Wrongful Detention

In an unprecedented ruling that places responsibility squarely on government officials who, after 9/11, championed policies clearly outside the boundaries of the law, a federal appellate court ruled that former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held personally responsible for the wrongful detention of an innocent American, Abdullah al-Kidd. The court also ruled that the federal material witness law cannot be used to "preventively" detain or investigate suspects. The ACLU represents al-Kidd in the case, al-Kidd v. Ashcroft.

Prior to 9/11, the federal material witness law was used sparingly -- especially with U.S. citizens -- to ensure that witnesses would be available to testify in criminal cases. Under the statute, arrests took place in rare cases to secure testimony where there was hard evidence that an individual had material information, but would not testify voluntarily. After 9/11, Ashcroft distorted the law into a so-called "preventive" detention statute, allowing the government to arrest and detain individuals for whom the government lacked probable cause to charge with criminal violations.

Al-Kidd, a U.S.-born American citizen, was on his way to Saudi Arabia to study when he was unlawfully detained and arrested in Washington's Dulles Airport on March 16, 2003 as a material witness in the trial of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. For 16 days, al-Kidd was held in heightened-security units of various jails and shackled whenever moved. He was eventually released under onerous conditions that included confining his travel to four states, surrendering his passport and reporting to probation officers. Al-Kidd was held for more than 13 months under these conditions without ever being charged with any crime or asked to testify.

"The court made it very clear that former Attorney General Ashcroft's use of the federal material witness law circumvented the Constitution," said ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Deputy Director Lee Gelernt, who argued the appeal. "Regardless of your rank or title, you can't escape liability if you personally created and oversaw a policy that deliberately violates the law."
>>Learn more about the case.

Can We? A Brief History of American Racism
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL | The American story is about our struggles with racism. How will this chapter end?

Why is Obama Still Using Blackwater
JEREMY SCAHILL | Two years after the Nisour Square massacre, Blackwater remains in Iraq, armed and dangerous.

Lack of insurance linked to 45000 deaths
Boston Globe
Any third-rate socio-economic
analysis could poke a 1000 holes in this statement. So, because the rate of mortality is higher in those without insurance, ...See all stories on this topic

Reframe the Conversation: Health Care Insurance Reform is a Basic ...
Huffington Post (blog)
Rally those brilliant strategists from Podesta's Center for American Progress or Joan Blades'
MoveOn.Org. Give them an assignment to get us on message and ...

The Baucus Pieces Of Silver

Max Baucus is a Democratic senator from Montana. He’s also the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and, because a health care reform bill has to pass through that committee, he’s the guy who’s currently charged with creating a bill and shepherding it through the Senate. Some say he’s been holding the process hostage, and there are concerns because he’s so tight with the insurance companies.

He just released his first draft of a bill today. You can download the whole thing here (pdf). It’s 220 pages long, and it’s hardly Harry Potter, but it’s not too technical to understand either if you want to give it a shot.

Ezra Klein is doing a fantastic job of going through the Baucus draft bill to help us all understand what it means. Some of his early findings: The Baucus bill allows insurance companies to crank premiums way up for old people. But, while there’s no public option, the bill’s version of Health Insurance Exchanges is surprisingly good. He also covers the fiscal implications: “According to the CBO, the bill covers 94 percent of legal residents and actually reduces the deficit. More to the point, it keeps reducing the deficit as time goes on.”

For some good background on how Baucus has been dealing with this responsibility, check the Columbia Journalism Review’s Baucus Watch series.

MY guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition,” President Obama said last week in an address to Congress on health care reform. It’s a good principle, one that may determine the ultimate success or failure of reform, but unfortunately it’s not really guiding the Senate bill unveiled on Wednesday or any of the other health reform legislation now under consideration in Congress.

t r u t h o u t | We Can't Afford Health Care? You Lie!
We see the spectacle of the US Congress unable to manage decent
health care reform that will actually enable the American citizenry to join the rest of the industrialized world in having health carefor all. The problems, it is clear, ...

Confused about health care reform? Join the club
Baltimore Sun
Admit it: the
health care debate is confusing. Your eyes gloss over at terms like "bending the cost curve" and "health insurance exchange. ...See all stories on this topic

Poll: Carter Preferred Over Both Bushes | The Plum Line
By Greg Sargent
I'm amused by tough guys like
Bush, Reagan and the righties….usually they remind me of again to use that Texas cliche “all hat and no cattle.” I mean really on a personal level Dick Cheney has never done anything to exhibit any personal ... Ok, sbj – Nixon was impeached, replaced by Ford who was replaced by Carter who was replaced by Reagan. Reagan was the first elected Republican after Nixon who was popular generally and who restored the party's self-respect. ...
The Plum Line -

In Other News

Negative public opinion seen as warning
signal for terrorism
Terrorism is more likely when one country's people
dislike the leaders and policies of another, a study
has found.

Tiny "T. rex" found:
An ancestor of the giant predator resembles a
miniature replica of it, at 1/90 the weight,
scientists say.

Fungus-treated violin beats Strad in blind test:
A newly developed type of violin won in a blind
contest against one made by the most famed violin
maker of history.

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