Hot Off the Press
From the Terrible Apologies blog:
From President Obama’s speech on drones and national security today:
“It is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live…
Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes…”
He feels pretty bad about it, but really the terrorists should feel worse.
So, there’s that.
Via my friends at Short Form Blog:
The first page of the letter from Attorney General Eric Holder revealing that Americans have been killed in counterterrorism operations. Click to read more.
The thing that’s so fascinating about this letter is that the majority of the first page is all about how the Obama administration is so committed to transparency.
“We promised to be the most transparent administration we could possibly be, so now we’re going to tell you a horrible thing that you — and everyone else — already knows, namely that we assassinated four American citizens abroad and we really only intended to assassinate one of them … but we was a really bad guy and the other guys were almost certainly related to him or working with him or hanging out near him.”
Does someone actually believe that this is what transparency means?
Guatemala’s constitutional court has overturned a genocide conviction against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, throwing out all proceedings against him since a dispute broke out in April over who should hear it.
Ríos Montt was found guilty on 10 May of overseeing the deliberate killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population during his 1982-83 rule. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
But the constitutional court said it had thrown out all proceedings in the case that took place after 19 April. It was then that the trial against Ríos Montt was suspended after a spat between judges over who should take the case.
Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s researcher on Guatemala outlines the serious and far-reaching problems raised by the constitutional court’s ruling:
“The legal basis for the ruling is unclear, and it is uncertain how the trial court can hit the reset button to get back to a point in mid-April. What is clear is that the Constitutional Court has just thrown up formidable obstacles to justice and accountability for a harrowing period in Guatemala’s recent history.
“With the sentence on 10 May, the trial court had sent a strong signal that crimes against thousands of Mayan victims would not be tolerated. The Constitutional Court has now questioned that message, putting the right to truth, justice and reparation at risk in Guatemala.”
Nebraska’s Death Penalty
Nebraska’s death penalty is arbitrary, unfair, expensive, and useless … in short, it’s hopelessly, hopelessly broken:
Since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of capital punishment, Nebraska has spent an estimated $100 million on death penalty cases and executed three people.
“Why do we have something on our books that is so inefficient? So costly?” asked Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln, who also once supported the death penalty.
Coash said Nebraska would never again carry out an execution because it was becoming increasingly difficult to get lethal injection drugs.
“There isn’t going to be another execution in this state,” he said. “It’s not gonna happen.
“What good has the death penalty done for our citizens? What good has been done?” Coash asked. “Without an execution, the death penalty is pretty meaningless. It hasn’t saved money. It hasn’t deterred any crime.”
But that doesn’t mean the the legislature is going to repeal the broken, useless, costly, and morally bankrupt “ultimate punishment”:
For the first time in 34 years, a majority of Nebraska lawmakers seems to support abolishing the state’s death penalty.
But a bill they considered Monday to do so appears to be going nowhere since a ”test vote” showed there probably is not enough support to stop a filibuster.
You read that right. A majority of legislators support repeal, but not enough to stop a filibuster or override a veto:
Custom dictates first-round debate on a bill can last as long as eight hours. At that point, it takes 33 of the 49 senators’ votes to end debate and move to a vote.
But after Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy launched a filibuster against the measure, Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha decided to float a trial balloon by filing a motion to kill the bill and then asking for a vote to gauge support.
A vote against killing the bill was, in essence, a vote in support of abolishing the death penalty. The tally was 18 for killing the bill and 26 against — more than the 25 needed to advance the bill to second-round debate but not the 33 needed to end the filibuster or even the 30 required to override an expected veto by Gov. Dave Heineman.
Lawmakers will reach the eight-hour limit Tuesday. Speaker Greg Adams usually will not bring a bill back for further debate at that point unless supporters can prove they have the 33 votes to end the filibuster.
That’s some mighty impressive leadership right there.
That’s a three day old tweet from the organizer of the brilliant “Open Carry March on Washington,” advising his ~20,000 followers to shoot at government agents if they feel their rights are being threatened by them.
As the Facebook page (created by the very same Adam Kokesh) for the event notes, “There’s a remote chance that there will be violence as there has been from government before, and I think it should be clear [emphasis mine] that if anyone involved in this event is approached respectfully by agents of the state, they will submit to arrest without resisting.”
Yeah, I can’t imagine how it might not have been clear.
From Comedy Central’s Indecision Tumblr:
Countdown over! In the category of derpiest comment about NBA pro Jason Collins’ coming out, the winner is Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro:
Hmm, who DOES meet Shapiro’s awfully high Nazi-killing standard for heroism?
Ben Shapiro’s standard for heroism has risen quite a bit since three months ago.
By every conceivable metric, Jason Collins’ decision to become the first openly gay active athlete in a major professional sport meets the definition of a heroic action. By those same metrics — and so many others — Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro is a ridiculous gasbag.
There are, of course, going to be far, far worse responses to Collins. But the anticipation of those don’t make Shapiro’s comments any less foolish.
Most Reprehensible Reaction Award
In the aftermath of any tragedy — whether man-made or natural — it’s not hard to find the finalists for the “Most Reprehensible Reaction” award.
People like Senator Lindsey Graham, who urged the Obama administration to label the suspect an enemy combatant so we could more easily ignore his rights, thought they had this award locked down. But they’ve got competition.
At the top of the list is surely “journalist” Howie Carr, who wrote a deliriously Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-liberal opinion piece for the Boston Herald today that begins with this:
So once again, no good deed goes unpunished.
Uncle Sam lets another bunch of leeching future terrorists into the country who have absolutely no business being here, gives them “asylum,” making them immediately eligible for welfare, and this is the thanks we get?
They turn into mass murderers.
We bring in thousands of Muslims from a primitive society that has been battling Christians for centuries, and put them into a peaceful Christian society — what could possible go wrong?
But before we pronounce Carr the outright winner, let’s not forget New York State Senator Greg Ball, who took to Twitter to suggest that our government ought to hurry up and torture the Boston bombing suspect:
When he faced criticism for this position, he doubled down: “If people find that offensive, they’re going to have to check their own conscience.”
He then managed to turn the whole episode into a good example of why New York needs the death penalty, reminding us that, while we might have some moral qualms about torture, we can all rally behind executions.
I’m sure these few examples are just the beginning; of course, we have plenty of time before we have to actually announce the winner of the “Most Reprensible Reaction” award … and I haven’t even really looked at Facebook yet.
Trashing the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law in only four tweets, a lesson from Senator Lindsey Graham.
A Republican lawmaker from Arkansas upset both Bostonians and non-Bostonians from both sides of the aisle this morning after he felt the need to tweet a pro-gun message around the time two armed police officers were being shot in their pursuit of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
He later pulled the tweet and “apologized,” as seen above … though his apology is for timing rather than content (which, apparently, he thinks is still totally appropriate). He also included this observation:
“I don’t regret the content as much as I regret the timing,” Bell, R-Mena, told The Associated Press. “I really didn’t think about it going to Boston and was generally expressing my personal view of how I would have felt in that situation myself.”
“I was basically just expressing my frustration, I guess, if I had been a person who was living there last night and my elected officials had prevented me from being able to defend myself and my family,” Bell told the AP. “I would have felt pretty powerless and wanted to express that.”
A better apology would have been much shorter and to the point, “I am extremely sorry for expressing what can only be called a ghastly opinion at what can only be called the worst possible time. Next week, I’ll go back to expressing my various ghastly opinions and I’m pretty sure none of you will notice since you didn’t really seem to notice before.”