Monday, January 19, 2004

When does it become obvious that we're living in perilous times for the U.S. Constitution? When it takes the military to protect us from the overreach of the Executive branch. Military lawyers file an extraordinary amicus brief on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees, reminding the Supremes that we have the potential to create another King George.

"Slight encroachments create new boundaries from which legions of power can seek new territory to capture. It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest and least repulsive form; but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure ...

We should not break faith with this nation's tradition of keeping military power subservient to civilian authority, a tradition which we believe is firmly embodied in the Constitution. The country has remained true to that faith for almost one hundred seventy years. Perhaps no group in the Nation has been truer than military men themselves."

The amicus does not argue against the president's right to wage war and to conduct the war as he sees fit. What the military lawyers do argue is that this is not World War II. The "War on Terror" is potentially never ending. The Constitution does not countenance open-ended presidential power, nor to try anyone he sees fit, with no civilian review over military tribunals in which the judge, prosecutor, and defending lawyer all work for the president.

And just because the president and his advisors are dim-witted rubes doesn't make it right either. Via TPM, check out this great, great post from CalPundit. It provides amazing insight into the mind of Richard Perle. He has always understood the situation better than the "experts" at the CIA. Remarkable. Just remarkable.

Speaking of rubes. Bringing freedom to Iraq was the reason we're there, right, since WMD was just a ruse the freedom-loving administration used to get the U.S. population to support the war? I guess Iraqi men's freedom to oppress Iraqi women. We're doing a bang-up job.

And remember when we decided we "don't need no stinking UN?" Just kidding. I'm reminded of the dulcimer tones of Neil Young when he croons a kind of anthem for our work in "Phase IV" in Iraq.

Tom Paine has a scorecard to help you stay alert during the Distate of the Union tomorrow night.

Also helping us keep score as we career towards "Decision 2004," the Columbia School of Journalism has opened up a Campaign Desk to monitor the rhetoric.

Back in the day. Ever wonder what it was like to be the Official Presidential Jokemeister, when the guy you work for has just faced impeachment due to a certain dalliance?

Finally, the WSJ reports on IBM's plans to off-shore thousands of programmers and other well paid back office employees.

"Among other things, the documents indicate that for internal IBM accounting purposes, a programmer in China with three to five years experience would cost about $12.50 an hour, including salary and benefits. A person familiar with IBM's internal billing rates says that's less than one-fourth of the $56-an-hour cost of a comparable U.S. employee, which also includes salary and benefits."

Documents show that IBM was acutely aware of the sensitivities involved. Managers were told how to communicate to employees, specifically to avoid transperency regarding the plans and to never use the words "off-shore" and "on shore."

"In the draft script prepared for managers, IBM suggests the workers be told: 'This action is a statement about the rate and pace of change in this demanding industry. ...[sic] It is in no way a comment on the excellent work you have done over the years.' The script also suggests saying: 'For the people whose jobs are affected by this consolidation, I understand this is difficult news.'"

Sorry, subscription required for the WSJ story. But you can hear a story about it on Marketplace, along with an argument that not only will companies likely not save as much as they expect on the deal, they are, in essence, creating new competitors in China.


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