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The Morning Grumpy 12/16/2011

16 Dec

All the news and views fit to consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1. Congressional approval is always low, no one really thinks Congress is doing a good job, right? However, history shows that while people disapprove of Congress, in general, they usually think their congressperson is doing a good job.  With Congressional approval numbers at an all-time low, how is that historical favoring of local Representatives holding up? Not so well, actually.

As voters look toward the 2012 congressional elections, anti-incumbent sentiment is running at or near record highs. Just 20% of voters say they would like to see most members of Congress reelected in the next congressional election. Two-thirds (67%) think most members of Congress should be replaced. This exceeds – by double digits – previous highs set in 2010, 2006 and 1994.

As is generally the case, voters are more positive about their own congressional representative. Half (50%) say they would like to see their own representative reelected while 33% say their representative should not be reelected. Still, this equals the level of anti-incumbent sentiment in 2010, when 58 incumbents went on to lose reelection bids – the most since 1948.

Not good news for Republican incumbents found in this poll, specifically.

2. It seems a shame that our elected Congressional representatives from WNY (with the exception of Rep. Louise Slaughter) and both of our Senators voted to support the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Why is it a shame? I refer you to Subtitle D of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), particularly Sections 1031–1033. You can read an analysis here.

The law, awaiting President Obama’s signature, would allow for the indefinite military detention of any person alleged to be a member of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.” The provisions also apply to any person who supports or aids “belligerent” acts against the United States, whether the person is apprehended beyond our borders or on domestic soil.

For noncitizens, such detention would be mandatory. Military detention would still be the default, even for citizens, but at the discretion of the president, it could be waived in favor of handing over the case to domestic law enforcement. Under this law, if the Defense Department thinks you’re a terrorist, there would be no presumption of innocence; you would be presumed a detainee of the military unless the executive decides otherwise. Without such a waiver, again, even if you’re a citizen, you will never hear words like “alleged” or “suspected.” You will be an “unprivileged enemy belligerent,” with limited rights to appeal that status, no rights to due process, or to a jury, or to a speedy trial guided by the rules of evidence.

According to the “law of war” invoked by these sections of the NDAA, a person in military custody can be held indefinitely, without charge and without access to civilian courts. Perhaps most significant, with the suspension of constitutional provisions for due process, there would be no Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Dangerous times, and not because of a terrorist threat. Glenn Greenwald breaks it down for you here and here.

3. Student debt has ballooned out of control.

4. One of the greatest journalists, critics, thinkers and men of our generation died yesterday after 62 glorious years on this Earth. Christopher Hitchens was a man in the greatest sense of the word.

Fearless in the way he lived, powerful in the way he spoke, forceful in his writing, insightful in his thinking and a classic sonofabitch. The world is poorer for his loss. Rest In Peace. As a remembrance, take a moment to revel in this tale of Hitch and friends taking a stroll in Beirut. For those of us who loved his work, it represents everything we loved about him.

Fact Of The Day: In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea overboard to protest tea taxes. 236 years later, baby boomers donned goofy hats to bastardize the memory of this remarkable event as they protested the black guy and his proposed moderate/incremental changes to American healthcare regulations.

Quote Of The Day:  “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens

Song Of The Day: “Galway Girl” – Steve Earle

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

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