The Madness of King George: Signing Statement

Fair warning: if you haven’t already heard about this, it’ll likely give you a conniption fit.

Ready? All right, remember the McCain-Feingold anti-torture amendment that Bush/Cheney have been fighting frantically (because if America stands for anything, it’s the right to torture prisoners) for weeks and months?

And Bush/Cheney lost that battle, right? Last month, Bush announced that he was signing the bill, “…blah blah blah we do not torture, blah blah blah…”

But he didn’t sign it right then, on the day, the day with McCain and all the reporters. He didn’t sign the bill until last Friday, and when he signed it, he included with it an Interpretive Signing Statement.

“Um…er?”, I hear you cry. “Signing Statement? Should I care?”

Well, let me set the stage for you: on Monday, on The Rachel Maddow Show (“What? Her again!”), Rachel spoke about an article in The Washington Post on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, and how focused he is on increasing the power of the Chief Executive.

Alito, way, way long ago, had written an argument that the Chief Executive should include an Interpretive Signing Statement whenever he signed an important bill, indicating his intent, and directing the interpretation of the bill — it’s another way to increase the power of the Chief Executive, which is what Alito is all about.

So what did Bush’s Signing Statement on Friday say? Just that, in the event that National Security dictated it, he reserved the right to blow off the law that he was signing, whenever he felt like it.

Now, what kind of guy would spit in the face of Congress like this, on the very week before they were going to begin hearings on whether or not to approve the very judge who said that Presidents should spit early and often? I mean, presumably Congressmen don’t want to give up power any more than any other politicians. So, it doesn’t make sense, right?

No, but it’s exactly what King George has been doing since the day he wasn’t elected — it’s all of a piece with the recent spying scandal, basically “Screw you if think that you’re going to limit my power! I’m the fricking President! Damn the Courts! Damn the Constitution! It’s only a Goddamn piece of paper!” (He actually said this last sentence in front of multiple Republican members of Congress, though no one will go on the record to say so).

And here’s the thing: have you heard anything about this signing statement, which in my mind amounts to yet another Constitutional Crisis in a long string of them in recent months, from your usual news sources?

God help us all, still more than three years still to go. Happy New Year.

Read Sunday’s article in The Washington Post about Alito’s writing in support of Presidential Signing Statements.

Listen to Monday’s segment on The Rachel Maddow Show (Starts at 54:19) on the same topic.

Listen to Thursday’s segment on The Rachel Maddow Show (Starts at 50:40) about Bush’s Signing Statement on Friday.

Read the 155-page report from The People For The American Way on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, and/or the much shorter Executive Summary.

Christmas Catten, Part 4: Tony Goes Mental

I did a little Googling on the Internet today, and found the probable reason for Tony the Catten’s wobbliness:

Spastic cats (CH cats) are sometimes born to females who have suffered Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE, Feline Panleukopaenia, Feline Distemper) during pregnancy. Cats which have suffered brain damage through an accident may also be unco-ordinated so these notes apply. It can also be due to injury, poisoning or simply a random development problem. It is not known to be caused by a pregnant cat receiving the Enteritis vaccination and is usually only seen in kittens born to feral, stray or unvaccinated cats.

Adult cats have an immune system which can usually can fight off FIE, but in kittens the virus can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause defects in the cerebellum. Unborn kittens at 1 – 4 weeks gestation are usually killed by the infection and the foetus is reabsorbed by the mother or spontaneously aborted. Kittens at about 4-5 weeks gestation may be stillborn and have major defects; if born live they are unlikely to survive. Kittens infected near the end of the pregnancy may be stillborn or may be born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (spasticity). These timings and the effects depend on the development stage, size, health and strength of the kitten. It also depends on the mother cat’s health, the environment and the amount of virus she was exposed to. There are different strains of the virus and some may be more damaging to unborn kittens than others.

Affected kittens may not grow as large as unaffected kittens or they may have slower development. The virus affects the cerebellum area of the brain, an area involved in fine motor control. Typical symptoms are ataxia (poor co-ordination), gait abnormalities and perception. Affected cats are wobbly and unco-ordinated (variable degrees from wobbly through to unable to walk) and have characteristic head tremors which are evident when they try to focus on something (e.g. a bird). Many also have sight problems, but it is difficult to assess their sight due to their strange posture and gait. It often looks as though their body goes the opposite of what they are telling it to do, or one part goes in one direction while the other tries to head off elsewhere! They adapt to these challenges, but will always be clumsy and may be nervous or unsure of themselves in new situations. Barring any accidents caused by their unco-ordination, their life expectancy doesn’t seem to be affected and given a safe environment, they live as long as unaffected cats and seem little troubled by their condition.

Amazing: Poisoning, Panleukopaenia, Blow to the Head – Tony’s got the Trifecta! (Poisoned while a feral kitten, caught Panleukopaenia while at Virginia’s house, and Virginia’s husband Phil accidentally closed the refrigerator door pretty hard on his head). We’ll never know exactly what caused it.

Tony seems to be afflicted with a fairly mild case: for example, he has no trouble swatting a computer pointer as I move the mouse — consider that to do that, he has to not only see where it is, but predict where it will be, and then put his paw there.

Read the full posting at Messy Beast.com

The next Catten entry is here, 10 months later.

Twice The Maddow!

Starting today, Rachel Maddow gets a deservedly expanded showcase: The Rachel Maddow Show grows to two full hours (in the words of Kent Jones, “When faced with natural predators, The Rachel Maddow Show expands to twice its normal size”), as part of the new Air America Mornings.

It is, as I say, well-deserved. Rachel’s old show was the tightest production on Air America Radio, and I expect that that will remain true of the new one, though the expanded format gives her scope to interview guests and just generally go slightly more in-depth.

But yes, after quintupling the ratings in her former time slot, and doing an absolutely amazing job substituting for Al Franken the week that Katrina hit, she launches her new, bigger-than-ever show today.

You can catch her new “double-wide” show at 7:00-9:00am Eastern Time on one of Air America Radio’s 84 Stations (count ’em), or you should be able to download the MP3 podcast either from the archives or else via iTunes, though I’m at this point posting proleptically, as Industry Figure John Blackburn would no doubt say.

Alpha and Omega

And so here we are, we’ve arrived at last: the final post of my self-imposed sprint of 16 Posts in 16 Days. It is both the end of the sprint, and the beginning of the New Year.

But what to post? Another pean to Pandora.com? More pictures of the cute catten?

No! Instead, I give you this hilarious, if appalling, photograph from my college years, sent in today by my old friend and Industry Figure, Leah Newell:


Tom Chappell, Karen Reynolds, and Curt Welch, 1978.

I mean, Geez, Louise, look at me. I look like Ross from Friends, when he is shown in his college years. Same exact mustache. And wait a minute, why is Karen’s arm around Curt? She was my girlfriend!

(Post #16 of 16 Posts in 16 Days. Ta Da!)