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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lost Confidence

Et Tu, Mr. Grassley?

Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley ran a commercial several years ago when he was up for re-election. The commercial painted Mr. Grassley as a simple man from Iowa who likes to mow his own lawn. That appeals to Iowans, actually - we like people who do their own work and lead simple lives.

However, yesterday Mr. Grassley made some comments that did indeed make him sound simple. While sitting on the Senate committee to evaluate potential Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito, Mr. Grassley told Mr. Alito, "Your critics are grasping at any straw to tarnish your record." source My immediate thought to this comment was that if Mr. Alito's record were to be clean, there could be no tarnish - therefore he must have a tarnished record already.

Mr. Grassley also stated, "Judge Alito has a reputation for being an exceptional and honest judge devoted to the rule of law, as well as being a man of integrity." source I have nothing against stating a man's reputation. I just hope that Mr. Grassley also looks at Mr. Alito's record. I have a good reputation as a graphic designer, but that does NOT mean that I'd make a good surgeon. Mr. Alito has a good reputation in his legal dealings thus far, but that does NOT mean he'll automatically make a good Supreme Court Justice.

Some of the touchier portions of the hearings thus far involve the Supreme Court's views regarding presidential powers (how much authority the United States President really has). Mr. Alito's views are that the president's authority should not be fettered much by the courts. According to Mr. Grassley, the president's critics "are trying to make a case that President Bush is assuming more power than presidents over a long period of time have assumed ... and it's simply not true." source This makes Mr. Grassley look like President George Walker Bush's lapdog, as the Bush administration has taken it upon themselves to assume the power to illegally imprison U.S. citizens, secretly eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, authorize hidden secret prisons in Europe, and condone torture.

I have a sinking feeling that Mr. Grassley is going to rubber-stamp President Bush's wishes regarding Judge Alito, and I have a feeling that should Mr. Alito become a Supreme Court Justice the United States will change for the worse. I had respect for Mr. Grassley, but that respect is waning. Especially as I just learned that Mr. Grassley has taken money from lobbyist Jack Abramoff (who pleaded guilty to federal fraud and corruption charges) and has no intention of returning the dirty money. source (incidentally, Representatives Jim Nussle, Tom Latham and Steve King each took $10,000 from Abramoff in 2004. I've heard rumors that Democratic Senator Tom Harkin also received "Abramoff money," but I've not found out if he returned the funds, or how he came across them in the first place.)

There is a short funny blog about Grassley here.


Daily Pics

I took off work at four today and went to the riverfront and wandered around the Anderson Dance Pavillion. I needed to see the sun...






Gitmo

According to BBC News, Amnesty International found more claims of torture and abuse at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. source They say that 500 detainees are being held without charge or trial, and listed several atrocities (people being subjected to physical, sexual and religious abuse) in the prison. "There's no middle ground regarding Guantanamo," said Amnesty International official Stephen Bowen. "It must be closed and there must be an investigation into the dozens of torture reports that have emerged since 2002."

I have no love of terrorists. I think that they should be held accountable for their actions, just like everyone else. But it's been four years, for gosh sakes! Can't we at least charge these people with a crime and let them see a lawyer? We NEED to follow the Geneva Conventions, whether we like them at the moment or not. Failure to do so leads down a slippery slope to a very cruel place, and I don't wanna go there.

Why are these people held in Cuba, anyway? Why are we afraid to bring them to the U.S.? Or shouldn't they be held as war criminals and tried by the International Criminal Court (founded in 1998 by the United Nations for just this sort of thing source) at the Hague in the Netherlands? Doesn't that make sense? We wanted the rest of the world involved when we attacked Iraq, why can't we have the rest of the world involved when we try these suspected terrorists in a court of law? Speaking of Iraq, why isn't Saddam Hussein being tried by the ICC at the Hague? I just don't understand... I don't understand.

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