After a one week hiatus, Tim and I are back with Episode 178 of The Tim Corrimal Show. This week, Tim and I were joined by husband and wife team Raine (@Raine1967 on Twitter) and Bob (@BobberDC on Twitter) of The Four Freedoms Blog to discuss state of the world.
After naming our Twitter Friends of the Week (and do check out mine: @Picassokat), it was time for the Republican 2012 Clown Car Update, with Tim noting that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty apparently dropped out of the race today; Michele Bachmann won the all-but-meaningless Ames Straw Poll beauty contest (closely followed by Ron Paul, the guy who still hasn’t explained those troubling newsletters he published in the 1980s and ’90s …); and the ascension and near-coronation of Texas’ other semi-literate Republican Governor, Rick Perry, who announced yesterday that he’s running for president. We also discussed Newt Gingrich’s assertion that he’s the King of Twitter (video via Countdown With Keith Olbermann), which, as Gawker explained last week, is pure Gingrichian fantasy.
We also spent some time discussing Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, including the story of the St. Louis area woman who hired a plane to fly over Wall Street with a banner reading: “Thanks for the Downgrade. You Should All Be Fired.” Tim also played a clip of Robert Kuttner from The American Prospect discussing the downgrade with Keith Olbermann. That segment is well worth watching in its entirety.
Although we were running short on time, we briefly discussed last week’s recall elections in Wisconsin, in which Democrat Jessica King defeated incumbent Republican Randy Hopper in the state’s 18th Senatorial District, and Democrat Jennifer Shilling defeated incumbent Republican Dan Kapanke in the 32nd District. Because we were running late at that point, we did not have a chance to play this clip of Jessica King and State Sen. Chris Larson discussing the recall elections with David Shuster, but I recommend it. In particular, as Sen. Larson points out, Republicans now have only a 17-16 majority in the Wisconsin Senate, and Republican Dale Schultz (whom I mistakenly referred to as Dan Schultz – apologies to @pastordan!) is known for moderation. In fact, Sen. Schultz voted against the state’s controversial anti-collective bargaining bill last March, the lone Republican to do so. Which means the Democrats’ gaining two seats in the Wisconsin Senate is, in fact, a significant win.
More to the point, though, the Wisconsin experience shows that the key to progressives’ success is to focus on the state and local level, where real change is possible. This is a lesson that cannot be stressed enough these days. If liberals and progressives want to change Washington, we have to do it one congressional district at a time.
In any event, in my Legal Corner segment today I went over the two federal appellate court decisions I wrote about last week – Vance v. Rumsfeld and Ali v. Rumsfeld – in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld could be sued for the torture and abuse of American citizens at a military base in Iraq; but the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Sec. Rumsfeld and other military officials could not be sued for the torture and abuse of Afghan and Iraqi nationals at Bagram Air Force Base and Abu Ghraib prison. I should point out that August 4, 2011, the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia also ruled that former Sec. Rumsfeld could be sued by a U.S. military contractor over allegations of torture that occurred in Iraq.
That case is captioned John Doe v. Donald Rumsfeld, et al., No. 08-CV-1902 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. D.C.), and you can download a copy of Judge James Gwin’s August 4, 2011 ruling in .pdf format here. In the John Doe case, the District Court determined that the plaintiff could not sue Rumsfeld for violation of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. § 2000dd(a), which provides that “[n]o individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” Doe v. Rumsfeld, mem. op. at 9-10. Ultimately, however, the District Court found that the plaintiff could assert a claim against Rumsfeld under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of his Fifth Amendment substantive due process right “to be free from conduct and conditions of confinement that shock the conscience.” Doe v. Rumsfeld, mem. op. at 28.
Finally, we ended the show with a discussion of Pat Buchanan’s latest racist faux pas, the one where he referred to Pres. Obama as Rev. Al Sharpton’s “boy” on Sharpton’s MSNBC show. Tim played a clip of The Jimmy Dore Show in which the panel considered Buchanan’s almost-equally-unbelievable “defense” of that remark (“I was … using boxing terminology …”) and found it to be, um, lacking.
So, I’ll end here by reiterating the point I made at the close of today’s show: The Buchanan incident reminds me, and it should remind all liberals and progressives, that this is what Pres. Obama is up against. Day after day after day. This is what the President of the United States has to deal with; and if we on the left aren’t conscious of that fact, well … we should be.