Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Martial Law Worries

In my previous post on the possibility of the Cheney/bush administration declaring martial law to avoid turning over the reins of power -- especially to Obama -- commenter Sheilanagig reminded me of something: the "John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007", signed into law by bush in October of 2006, contained a couple of last-minute provisions inserted at the request of the administration, one of which concerned suspending posse comitatus.

Lycosing* "suspension of posse comitatus act" led me to an article on, entitled "Bush Paves the Way for Martial Law: 2007 National Defense Authorization Act overturns Posse Comitatus Act" which contains the following:

Sec. 1042 of the Act, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," effectively overturns what is known as posse comitatus. The Posse Comitatus Act is a law, passed in 1878, that prohibits the use of the regular military within the U.S. borders.

Overturning or suspending this Act effectively allows the President (in this case, Cheney) to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs; whenever the Chief Executive thinks it necessary, he can institute martial law, under which the military takes control of civilian governmental administration... like law enforcement.

Sheilanagig also mentioned "Directive 51," referring to National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-51, signed by Commander Guy on May 4, 2007. This little gem of (un)Constitutional law relates to continuity of government operations after a "catastrophic emergency". The directive defines such an emergency as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions." [Emphasis added]

I can certainly imagine Cheney and bush deciding that a President Obama (or even a President McCain [shudder!]) would "severely affect" operations of their government.

This continuity of government would be achieved by the President "coordinating" the activities of the three branches of government. This is scary in that all of a sudden the President is coordinating the activities, as opposed to our current system where the three branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) are independent and co-equal. The Wikipedia page on the Directive has lots more scary information.

Yes, continuity of government is a critical factor when considering the aftermath of a terrorist attack (or a natural disaster), but most continuity plans I have seen discussed retain the concept of three separate-but-equal branches of government.

So, even without going into the business of razor wire surrounding FEMA "evacuation camps" and the rest of the "black helicopter" paranoia, there seems to be increasing evidence that Cheney, bush, et al., are at least thinking about the imposition of martial law.

I really do fear for my country these days.

*"Lycosing" is not as mellifluous as "Googling", but as I mentioned in the post immediately below this one, Lycos is now the Official Search Engine of 618Rants.

Google and Yahoo Are Pissing Me Off...

The geniuses at both Google and Yahoo have come up with an exciting new advertising ploy. When you click on a search result, you are redirected to an advertising page that often has nothing to do with your search.

For instance:

Google: I entered the term "Cocoanut Grove" looking for information on the 1942 fire. The first result Google returned was the Wikipedia page for the fire. Clicking on that link, however, took me to a fine food page, Gourmandia. Not only was I greeted with a truly obnoxious Flash animation for WallyWorld, it had nothing to do with the Cocoanut Grove fire, except possibly both involved exposing flesh to high heat. Clicking "back" (at least on Internet Exploder) took me to the redirect page, which sent me back to Gourmandia. To get back to the search results, I have to open "History" and click the link there. Once I finally get back to Google, clicking the Wikipedia link again finally takes me to the page I wanted initially.

Yahoo: On Yahoo, the first two results for "Cocoanut Grove" take me to the Cocoanut Grove (Florida) Business Improvement Committee website (with a side trip to Elle magazine). Returning to Yahoo -- again via the "History" button -- I click on the Wikipedia link, and, whammo, once again, I'm at Elle fashion. Hit the "history", find Yahoo search results, and finally -- finally! -- I get to the Wikipedia page.

Thus far, Lycos (, which used to be the leading search engine till Google came along), takes me to Wikipedia without a detour to irrelevant advertising.

Therefore, I am proud to announce that LYCOS is the Official Search Engine of 618Rants.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Schticks of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

I. Gun Nuttiness

According to a filler in today's Portland Press-Herald, a woman in Lebanon, PA, lost her concealed carry permit after wearing a handgun in plain view at a soccer game. She claimed that "warm-weather clothing made it difficult to hide a firearm." Well, she has a point there. On the other hand, a right -- such as carrying a weapon -- comes with concurrent responsibilities -- such as not terrifying the populace, and obeying the terms of the permit. A "concealed carry" permit is just that: concealed. As a former police officer, I can testify that it is a real pain in the back of the lap to conceal a weapon on a hot summer day. That's why one occasionally sees beefy guys with short hair, blue jeans and black shoes (or black boots) wearing a windbreaker when it's 110 degrees. Chances are they guy's a cop. (And yes, the blue jeans and black boots is the giveaway).

If you're going to carry based on a concealed carry permit, your weapon has to be concealed.


Oh, and the local judge -- who also likes to pack heat on a concealed carry permit -- said the law required him to return the woman's permit.

II. Detroit Nuttiness

This tale of Detroit Nuttiness has nothing to do with former-mayor-and-convicted-felon Kwame Kilpatrick, but what the heck. Five (presumably female) Detroit police officers are suing the city for discrimination, in that they were forced to take sick leave when their bosses found out they were pregnant. The plaintiffs say they are contesting a 2004 policy that requires sick leave "unless a doctor finds they can crawl in confined spaces, jump from an elevated surface, and forcibly make arrests." Now, as a male, I have never been pregnant, and hopefully never will be (although I could use the money I'd get selling my story to the National Enquirer), but the policy seems to make a certain amount of sense. Being a street cop is a demanding, physical profession; does it really make sense to endanger not only your life, but the life of your unborn child? (And that comment has nothing to do with the question of when a fetus becomes a person)

On the other hand, given the dire financial straits in which Detroit finds itself, there should be some way of keeping these officers gainfully occupied while pregnant. The old standby of switching them to dispatch no longer is viable, due to all the specialized training now required of dispatchers (which is completely different than the training given street cops), but there should be other options, such as temporary re-assignment to Community Services (giving talks to school kids, who'd probably be thrilled at seeing a "girl cop"), Crime Prevention (Neighborhood Watch), or recruiting. Hell, sweeten the deal and arrange a temporary transfer to the Detective Division (to avoid having to buy maternity uniforms) and have them work Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, conducting follow-up interviews and investigations.

The city is going to wind up paying them either way, so they may as well get a return on their investment. And the average street cop has too much experience for it to lie fallow for five or six months, when they could be doing something productive for the city.

III. Dennis the Menace

Today's installment of the adventures of America's favorite "five-ana-half" year old has Dennis asking a guest, "If you're not married, who tells you when you're doin' something wrong?"

Oh, Dennis, Dennis, Dennis... Enjoy it while it lasts.

As any adult male can testify, there is always someone willing to tell you you're wrong. Female relatives, friends, acquaintances, even strangers, are always more than willing to point out the faults of any male.

IV. Bailout BS

After receiving something like $80 billion from the Feds as part of the bailout, AIG insurance execs blew $440,000 on a weekend retreat (including spas, manicures, pedicures, and a $10K bar tab). AIG then asked for $60 billion more.

And got it.

Meanwhile, ain't nobody bailing out us poor schmucks.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On Wednesday, I mentioned the possibility of a desperate last-minute power-grab by the current administration. I said, "I wouldn't put it past Cheney ... to greet us the day after Election Day..." without stopping to think that it doesn't have to be the day after. It could be any day, up to and including Inauguration Day.

Obviously, the easiest way for the Cheneyites to retain power would be to have some sort of terror attack which would -- at least in their minds -- justify the imposition of martial law.

In discussing this with some friends, one pointed out that even Cheney and bush wouldn't have the gall to try such a move. Then, I found this video from C-Span:

"...There would be martial law in America if we voted no..." (Money quote starts at 00:25)

Now granted, Congressman Sherman was discussing the ramifications of the bailout bill, but this shows that the idea of imposing martial law is starting to percolate through the administration.

This is a terrifying thought.

My friend also said that even if they try martial law, the government wouldn't allow it. I fear that is wishful thinking. Congress hasn't stood up against this administration since Day One, not against the Patriot Act, the suspension of habeus corpus, Gitmo or any of the other schemes Cheney and bush have come up with. The legal system wouldn't be of much use either, since Cheney and bush have ensured that only loyal bushies are installed as US Attorneys... and they're the ones who would have to act (assuming that Congress is effectively neutralized, as I fear it is).

She also claimed that during the final days of Nixon's implosion, military and law enforcement units were placed on alert, just in case Tricky Dick tried to impose martial law to remain in power; she said the same thing would happen now. I'm not so sure. In the first place, Nixon's downfall took place at the tail end of Vietnam, by which time the military had lost all confidence in their Commander in Chief; I'm not sure that applies now. This time, one could argue that the military supports the administration's "efforts" to root out terrorists. Furthermore, Cheney and bush have been pretty damned effective in purging the military of "disloyal" commanders.

And let us not forget that after 9-11, Federal law enforcement, with the exception of the FBI, was concentrated in the Department of Homeland Security. I've written many times about DHS, often comparing the agency to the gone-but-not-forgotten KGB, the "sword and shield" of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. DHS is completely under the thumb of the administration, and Michael "Skeletor" Chertoff doesn't strike me as the kind who would move against his superiors, especially not to defend a "goddamned piece of paper." I say it is entirely possible that any attempt to protest an imposition of martial law would be met by heavily armed DHS storm troopers fanatically loyal to Cheney and bush. The FBI would be equally useless, for under this administration, they have been given powers that they have only dreamed of, much more power than they held even under Hoover's heyday. Besides, the United States Secret Service -- formerly part of the Treasury Dept, and now, of course, an entity of DHS -- is the most professional, most competent executive protection organization on the face of the earth, and like the rest of DHS, would probably be loyal to the current regime.

Cheney and bush would have no problem inventing a disaster: another attack, "warnings" of an "impending" attack (and we've seen how often those crop up when the administration's in trouble), or even using the current economic meltdown. Cheney and bush would use bush's claim of "unitary executive power" and Cheney's position as "part of the legislative branch" to squelch any opposition.

Okay, maybe I'm paranoid, but -- as Henry Kissinger said, "Even a paranoid can have enemies."

It will be interesting to see if the United States of America still exists as a free nation on January 21, 2009.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Another Thing to Think About...

We're coming into the final stretch in the campaigning now, and more and more of the polls are tipping Obama's way. Given the Rethuglican proclivity for stealing elections, it will be interesting to see what happens if the vote gets to the point where the R's can't finagle a victory for themselves.

But even if McSame and the MILF manage to pull off some typically sleazy theft, who's to say gee-dumbya and unca Dick are going to go quietly into oblivion? I wouldn't put it past Cheney (since bush is a useless appendage on Biggus Dickus) to greet us the day after Election Day with some sort of terrist attack (or threat, or "gut feeling" or something) that "requires" them to stay in power indefinitely, to deal with "those godless moozlums."

And if it gets to the point where Obama has obviously won, I'd say some sort of desperate, last-minute power-grab is almost a certainty.