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The Man from S.P.E.C.T.E.R.


Philly blog round up: Philly Bits and Jesus Ride a Dinosaur, The All Spin Zone asks if "the impeachment of Bill Clinton was little more than a sting operation by the neocons in the GOP to inoculate a future GOP president from the same fate" (a must read imo, at a blog that I inexcusably neglected to mention last week,considering how much work Richard and the gang have put in, and considering how much effort Rich has personally expended on my behalf in Philadelphia), and Susie Madrak like the rest of us is losing patience about the Democratic response to Iraq. And now on with the show…

Y'all will have to pardon me if tonight's post is serious case of sophomore slump. Honestly, it's not my fault: I'm a separated parent and I've had custody of my three-year old son Sam for the past week. We don't see each other as much as I'd like: his mom lives in Montreal, and due to a long list of circumstances, the current visit schedule is a week or two every other month. As I'm sure Christy will tell you, having a Peanut (or a Sammers in my case) running around takes up a huge amount of your energy, and that is doubly so when you're doing it alone. I get up at 7:00 AM, and it's run run run until one, which is when Sam takes a nap and so do I, and then it's run run run until 8:30 and bedtime, which is about when I start to crash too. It's exhausting and exhilirating

Despite recent frustrations I vented at brendan calling, Sam's mom and I try our best to work as a team in his best interest, and 99% of our relationship is… well, not like that. I don't know how his mom does it, and if it weren't for Quebec's child care subsidies, I think we'd both be screwed.

You know, I didn't have a theme when I first started writing this post, but considering the lack of sleep, I am inclined to go easy on myself and write aboout someone I have come to loathe: the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter.   The man is a disgrace, and a truly pernicious charater in the GOP. For all Specter's up front babble about being a moderate, he tends to work quietly in the interest of the worst sorts of authoritarianism. Arlen Specter is a janus, a man who consistently says one thing and does the other. For example, take his declaration that

When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, who'd overturn Roe v. Wade, I think [their confirmation] is unlikely… "The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster."

after which voted for both Roberts and Alito. Or his promise that he wouldn't vote for the Military Commissions Act of 2006 because it was "patently unconstitutional", which he broke within 24 hours. His outrage at the Bush's illegal spying program was also a hilarious bit of theater: after proclaiming his intention to rein in the administration, he promptly wrote legislation legalizing the program, giving the adminsitration everything they wanted and then some, including retroactive immunity from prosecution, and then went out to lie about his own bill. In the months since the Great Republican Debacle of 2006, Arlen has turned on a dime (or more fitting, <i>flipped</i> like a coin). Watch Specter racing to the front of the parade, twirling his flacid penis little baton as he joins Pat Leahy to restore habeas corpus, with no mention that he's partially responsible for its suspension to being with.

ON THE FIRST day of the new Congress, two leading senators announced they would join in an attempt to reverse the hasty and ill-considered decision of the previous Congress to deprive foreign prisoners at Guantanamo Bay of the ancient right of habeas corpus, which allows the appeal of imprisonment to a judge. One of the senators, Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), predicted that the courts would rule that the provision of the Military Commissions Act eliminating habeas corpus was unconstitutional; he nevertheless joined the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), in sponsoring a bill restoring the appeal right.

…and like his newfound courage, perhaps too late:

Now Mr. Specter's prediction is looking less sure: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled this week that Congress's act was constitutional, and it threw the cases of dozens of Guantanamo detainees out of federal court. That ruling will almost certainly be reviewed by the Supreme Court on appeal, but Congress should not wait for its decision. It should move quickly on the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. The Supreme Court has already twice overruled decisions by the D.C. Circuit denying Guantanamo detainees habeas rights, but it is hard to predict whether it will do so again. The court's composition has changed since those rulings, with the addition of justices more likely to be sympathetic to the arguments of the Bush administration.

See how it works?  Say one thing; do the oppsite; then try to take credit for trying to undo what you did.  In fact if you listened to NPR tonight (Nice Polite Republicans), you probably heard Specter's jowels jiggling as he denounced the denial of habeas corpus to detainees.  "We mustn't wait for the courts to settle it," he babbled, as if that wasn't the exact reason he gave for supporting the bill in the first place.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) voted for the bill after telling reporters earlier that he would oppose it because it is "patently unconstitutional on its face." He cited its denial of the habeas corpus right to military detainees. In an interview last night, Specter said he decided to back the bill because it has several good items, "and the court will clean it up" by striking the habeas corpus provisions.

  The man will simply piss on your hat and try to tell you it's raining.

You can see this at play in another matter where Arlen's got some explaining to do: Bush's attorney purge. For a former DA, Senator Specter's been awfully quiet on this topic .  That's because he's THE responsible party.  Not that the Senator wants you to know that: his immediate reaction was to deny responsibility. Then, he blamed it on an aide.  I don't know if he's ever taken responsibility for the provision. [And a note on the speed of bloggery: when I first heard the story, I didn't know Specter was responsible for the language, and when I called his office to inquire his judiciary aide, Andrew Mountain, claimed Specter knew nothing. Not a second after I hung up the phone, talking points memo reported Specter's role: when I called back, Mountain told me to stop attacking his integrity. Incredible, in more ways than one, eh?]

Now, in typical fashion, Arlen wants in on legislation to fix the problem he created, so he can crow about his leadership and his independence. But who knows? Maybe Arlen just didn't remember he inserted the provision that allowed Bushylicious to go ditching inconvenient prosecutors willy-nilly. Poor memory would certainly explain the way Specter's sat on the Veterans Affairs Committee since 1981, and didn't know that anything untoward was going on at Walter Reed Medical Hospital: when I called to inquire, his staff barked at me "Well he knows now!" Testy testy. He gets paid $165,200 a year and "he knows now"? How is that even remotely acceptable as a response? And how am I supposed to take the Senator at his word, given his repeated and demonstrable willingness to say one thing while doing quite another.

Specter's not up for election again until 2010: it's a tragedy for everyone that he wasn't pitched out in 04.  he's one to watch, and not for the right reasons.  It's time that people started seeing Specter and his ilk for what they are: weasels who have two interests,their own egos and personal power.  

 See you in comments in a few minutes: right now it's time for stories, songs, and sleepytime for Sam.

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