Monthly Archives: March 2008

We are now engaged in a great struggle…..

What is that struggle, exactly?  I think it is the struggle of this nation’s soul against its drug addled mind.  Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World, forsaw a post-modern society in which true feeling and sincere emotions were (literally) drowned in a nearly magical but extremely safe medical mind-altering drug, which he called “Soma.”  No one ever worried about truth or justice or morality—non-conformists were “reconditioned” in special camps, and all citizens were instructed in their sleeping and waking hours by televisions and recorded programs that instilled into each individual the notion that the State provided everything and that the people had everything, and that no one lacked or could want for anything, so there was no need for freedom or choice or God or Christianity or a Church or personal responsibility.  An exceedingly important component of the Brave New World was universal sexual satisfaction based on promiscuity and the total lack of commitment by partners to each other, and the simultaneous destruction of the family, old age, and innocent childhood.  The only thing that’s really shocking about Huxley’s social analysis is that it was published in 1932—before any of those things had REALLY quite happened yet.  But they’ve all happened now—or are so close to happening that it isn’t even remotely funny.  So we live in a science fiction nightmare, where truth, justice, and morality are all simply irrelevant because no one really wants it, so long as they can have plasma, high-definition TVs with surround sound and a steady supply of conscienceless relationships and pregnancy-free sex for entertainment, always tempered with mind-altering drugs from Ritalin and Prozac to who knows what the latest fad in prescription mind-alteration is right now.

Nancy Jo Grant is now in day 42 of her “reconditioning” in the DeSoto County Jail to become an acceptable member of Florida Society.   Since 54 days behind bars obviously didn’t serve to shut me up with fear and loathing, another Texas Judge (this time in a case to which I was NEVER a party nor witness, and in which I wasn’t even MENTIONED in any substantive motion or pleading until the end) has now in effect “outlawed” or “attained” me completely, banning me from any “unapproved” filings in Federal Court, just as I have been banned from filing in State Court.  This means, of course, that all of my rights, called “Fundamental” by so many Supreme Court decisions, are now entirely discretionary with Federal & State Judges.   The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is upon us—Dictatorship by Arbitrary and Capricious Judicial Fiat.

And in the midst of all this, the catcalls and the jeers become louder.  Small rodent-like creatures ridicule me for having dared to stand up to the State of Texas and insist that the Texas Family Code, as a whole, on its face and as applied in the Courts of the State, is a constitutional mockery of the first order.  “Maybe you need to do something outside of law” the little vermin say—because I’ve angered the Mighty Powers that Be?

I have to say, I regard the two times I’ve been illegally arrested in the past two years as “Red Badges of Courage”, along with the cowardly judicial orders banning me from filings in ANY Court in Texas, of January 30, 2006 and now March 20, 2008, as indicating that I had struck a nerve, and that the people whose causes I assisted or supported had also struck nerves—and that freedom of speech, free exercise of the right to Petition, is simply too dangerous now ever to be allowed in George W. Bush’s America again.

The repetitive recording in the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston reminds travellers all day that “inappropriate comments may result in your arrest.”  What more fitting motto for the world that the Bushes and the Clintons have ushered in?  “Inappropriate Comments May Result in Your Arrest.”  This is music to the ears of little men and women who thrive on exploiting tyranny by sycophancy.

OK, Groundhog Day was 54 days ago…Feb 2-March 27, 2008

So now I’ve been back “out” again just as long as I was “in”—but Nancy Grant has now been “in” for 37 days.  We had expected some movement in her case this week, but so far absolutely NOTHING has happened.  Today (Thursday March 27) DeSoto County Sheriff Keen’s response to her Petition for Habeas Corpus is due in the U.S. District Court, MDFla, and if he doesn’t answer, I suppose she’ll walk—and it’s really quite amazing that he hasn’t answer yet. 

In the meantime, Nancy’s civil rights complaint was dismissed in Federal Court last week—even though Judge Howard knew she had been locked up for a month already and she had filed a Notice with the Court to that effect—and since it’s the very same judge (Marcia Morales Howard) who’s presiding over Nancy’s Habeas Corpus Petition, so perhaps optimism would be premature and unwarranted, just at the moment.  Nancy could still resuscitate her civil rights case with a Rule 59(e) Motion if she got out in time, but she has no lawyer on that case, and Montgomery Blair Sibley’s Emergency Application for Stay of his Suspension by the Florida Supreme Court was just denied by Clarence Thomas—and now he’s facing action by the New York State and D.C. Bars, since the injustices that are inflicted in one state are to be “reciprocally” imposed by other states. 

There’s also the question of who’s going to handle Nancy’s state court appeal and how….. it’s all very discouraging….

My 54 days “out” have certainly been more pleasant than my 54 days “in”—but not necessarily a lot more to show for them.  I wrote some interesting documents while I was at MDC, and met lots of interesting people.  The people on the outside have less dramatic legal problems and are much less enthusiastic about getting my help……most of them, anyhow.  I continue to be interested in the mortgage finance issue/securitization of mortgage notes with its concommitant attach on the “holder in due course” doctrine of debt collection. 

Legal education is the key to the future.  Nobody should be allowed to finish high school who doesn’t know the basic elements of civil and criminal procedure, how to look up cases, statutes, and what the general differences are between State and Federal Courts & Jurisdiction—because law impinges on every aspect of our lives these days, and most Americans are just abysmally ignorant….

Five Years of Government Lies about Iraq (from Salon.Com)

Civilization began in Iraq (and seems to be ending there also)

Five years of Iraq lies

How President Bush and his advisors have spent each year of the war peddling mendacious tales about a mission accomplished. By Juan Cole

Mar. 19, 2008 | Each year of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq has been represented by a thematic falsehood. That Iraq is now calm or more stable is only the latest in a series of such whoppers, which the mainstream press eagerly repeats. The fifth anniversary of Bush’s invasion of Iraq will be the last he presides over. Sen. John McCain, in turn, has now taken to dangling the bait of total victory before the American public, and some opinion polls suggest that Americans are swallowing it, hook, line and sinker.The most famous falsehoods connected to the war were those deployed by the president and his close advisors to justify the invasion. But each of the subsequent years since U.S. troops barreled toward Baghdad in March 2003 has been marked by propaganda campaigns just as mendacious. Here are five big lies from the Bush administration that have shaped perceptions of the Iraq war.Year 1’s big lie was that the rising violence in Iraq was nothing out of the ordinary. The social turmoil kicked off by the invasion was repeatedly denied by Bush officials. When Iraqis massively looted government ministries and even private shops, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joked that U.S. media had videotape of one man carrying off a vase and that they kept looping it over and over again. The first year of the war saw the rise of a Sunni Arab guerrilla movement that repeatedly struck at U.S. troops and at members and leaders of the Shiite-dominated Interim Governing Council appointed by the American government.

After dozens of U.S. and British military deaths, Rumsfeld actually came out before the cameras and denied, in July of 2003, that there was a building guerrilla war. When CNN’s Jamie McIntyre quoted to him the Department of Defense definition of a guerrilla war — “military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by an irregular predominantly indigenous forces” — and said it appeared to fit Iraq, Rumsfeld replied, “It really doesn’t.” Bush was so little concerned by the challenge of an insurgency that he cavalierly taunted the Sunni Arab guerrillas, “Bring ’em on!” regardless of whether it might recklessly endanger U.S. soldiers. The guerrillas brought it on.

In Year 2 the falsehood was that Iraq was becoming a shining model of democracy under America’s caring ministrations. In actuality, Bush had planned to impose on Iraq what he called “caucus-based” elections, in which the electorate would be restricted to the provincial and some municipal council members backed by Bush-related institutions. That plan was thwarted by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who demanded one-person, one-vote open elections, and brought tens of thousands of protesters out onto the streets of Baghdad and Basra.

The elections were deeply flawed, both with regard to execution and outcome. The U.S. campaign against Fallujah in November 2004, marked by more petulant rhetoric from Bush, had angered Sunni Arabs — who feared U.S. strategy favored Shiite ascendancy — and led to their boycotting the elections. The electoral system chosen by the United Nations and the U.S. would guarantee that if they boycotted, they would be without representation in parliament. Candidates could not campaign, and voters did not know for which individuals they were voting.

Much of the American public, egged on by White House propaganda, was sanguine when elections were held at the end of January 2005, mistaking process for substance. Why the disenfranchisement of the Sunni Arabs, who were becoming more and more violent, was a good thing, or why the victory of Shiite fundamentalists tied to Iran was a triumph for the U.S., remains difficult to discern. Nobody in the Middle East thought such flawed elections, held under foreign military occupation, were any sort of model for the region.

In Year 3, the Bush administration blamed almost everything that was going wrong on one shadowy figure: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bush set the tone for Year 3 with a speech at Fort Bragg on July 28, 2005, in which he said, “The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11 … if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi .. and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like bin Laden.” The previous week, Bush had said that the U.S. was in Iraq “because we were attacked.” Zarqawi was the perfect plot device for an administration who wanted to perpetuate the falsehood that the Iraq war was directly connected with Sept. 11 and al-Qaida.

In spring of 2006, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch came out and attributed 90 percent of suicide bombings in Iraq to Zarqawi and his organization, which he had rebranded as “al-Qaida in Iraq,” but which had begun in Afghanistan as an alternative to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization. Meanwhile, security analysts discerned 50 distinct Sunni Arab guerrilla cells in Iraq. Some were Baathists and some were Arab nationalists; some were Salafi Sunni fundamentalists while others were tribally based. To attribute so many attacks all over central, western and northern Iraq to a single entity suggested an enormous, centrally directed organization in Iraq called “al-Qaida.” But there was never any evidence for such a conclusion, and when Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in May of 2006, the insurgent violence continued without any change in pattern.

In Year 4, as major sectors of Iraq descended into hell, Bush’s big lie consisted of denying that the country had fallen into civil war. In late February 2006, Sunni guerrillas blew up the golden-domed Askariya shrine of the Shiites in Samarra. In the aftermath, the Shiites, who had shown some restraint until that point, targeted the Sunni Arabs in Baghdad and its hinterlands for ethnic cleansing. After May 2006, the death toll of victims of sectarian violence rose at times to an official figure of 2,500 or more per month, and it fluctuated around that level for the subsequent year. The Baghdad police had to form a new unit, the Corpse Patrol, to collect dozens of bodies every morning in the streets of the capital.

On Sept. 1, 2006, Sunni guerrillas slaughtered 34 Asian and Iraqi Shiite pilgrims passing near Ramadi on their way to the Shiite holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad. In his weekly radio address the next day Bush said, “Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war.” Many lesser conflicts have been dubbed civil wars by journalists, academics and policy thinkers alike. But Bush continued with the fantastic spin: “The people of Baghdad are seeing their security forces in the streets, dealing a blow to criminals and terrorists.”

Year 5, the past year, has been one of troop escalation, or the “surge.” (Calling the policy a “surge” rather than an “escalation” is emblematic of the administration’s propaganda.) The big lie is that Iraq is now calm, that the surge has worked, and that victory is within reach.

In early 2007, the U.S. made several risky bargains. It pledged to the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that it would disarm the Sunni Arab guerrillas in Baghdad first, before demanding that the Shiites lay down their arms. It thus induced Muqtada al-Sadr to declare a freeze on the paramilitary activities of his Mahdi army militia. The Americans would go on to destroy some of his Sunni Arab enemies for him. U.S. military leaders in Iraq began paying Sunni Arab Iraqi guerrillas and others in provinces such as al-Anbar to side with the United States and to turn on the foreign jihadis, most of them from Saudi Arabia and North Africa. U.S. troops also began a new counterinsurgency strategy, focused on taking control of Sunni Arab neighborhoods, clearing them of armed guerrillas, and then staying in them on patrol to ensure that the guerrillas did not reestablish themselves.

The strategy of disarming the Sunni Arabs of Baghdad — who in 2003 constituted nearly half the capital’s inhabitants — had enormous consequences. Shiite militias took advantage of the Sunnis’ helplessness to invade their neighborhoods at night, kill some as an object lesson, and chase the Sunnis out. Hundreds of thousands of Baghdad residents were ethnically cleansed in the course of 2007, during the surge, and some two-thirds of the more than 1.2 million Iraqi refugees who ended up in Syria were Sunni Arabs. Baghdad, a symbol of past Arab glory and of the Iraqi nation, became at least 75 percent Shiite, perhaps more.

That outcome has set the stage for further Sunni-Shiite conflict to come. Much of the reduction in the civilian death toll is explained by this simple equation: A formerly mixed neighborhood like Shaab, east of the capital, now has no Sunnis to speak of, and so therefore there are no longer Sunni bodies in the street each morning.

But the troop escalation has failed to stop bombings in Baghdad, and the frequency and deadliness of attacks increased in February and March, after falling in January. In the first 10 days of March, official figures showed 39 deaths a day from political violence, up from 29 a day in February, and 20 in January. Assassinations, attacks on police, and bombings continue in Sunni Arab cities such as Baquba, Samarra and Mosul, as well as in Kirkuk and its hinterlands in the north. On Monday, a horrific bombing in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala killed 52 and wounded 75, ruining the timing of Vice President Cheney’s and Sen. McCain’s visit to Iraq to further declare victory.

Moreover, Turkey made a major incursion into Iraq to punish the guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers Party from eastern Anatolia, who have in the past seven months killed dozens of Turkish troops. The U.S. media was speaking of “calm” and “a lull” in Iraq violence even while destructive bombs were going off in Baghdad, and Turkey’s incursion was resulting in over a hundred deaths. The surge was “succeeding,” according to the administration, and therefore no mere attacks by a third country, or bombings by insurgents, could challenge the White House story line.

Bush’s five big lies about Iraq powerfully shaped press coverage of the war and have kept the mess there going at least long enough to turn it over to the next president. As he campaigns for the White House, John McCain, Bush’s heir apparent in the Iraq propaganda department, has been signaling that “complete victory” in Iraq will be his talking point of choice for Year 6. If the mainstream media and the American public don’t wake up to the truth about how the war has gone, they’ll find themselves buying into an even longer and deeper tragedy.

— By Juan Cole

Comment on 3-17 Article: “How photos support your own ‘reality'”

Yes, I’m a “9-11 Truther,” and Very Ashamed (of what it says about my Country, that is)…..

I am very sad and ashamed that I do not trust my government, but I think you’d have to be insane to trust this particular government we’ve had for the past twenty years (Bush-Clinton-Bush). There’s a reason why the “X-Files” was so popular in the 1990s—it’s because NOBODY in their right mind really trusts the US Government anymore. Brian Strosser wrote: “That is the beauty of paranoia: once embraced, it relives you of ever having to think again.” I demur!

Whether we agree on the historic details of specific conspiracies or not, however, I think we can or should ALL agree that it is blind faith in the power and righteousness of our Government that has made up one flimsy excuse and lie after another to go out to kill, kill, kill throughout the world while we jail, jail, jail our own people here at home.

One aspect of history that has so far been ignored by the other posters is “pattern”—the repetitive patterns of medium range history that characeterize different eras.

In the United States a decade of political assassinations, started in 1963 with Kennedy, followed in rapid succession by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, & ending, strangely enough, with George Corley Wallace, who survived as a paralytic cripple the attack on his life in Silver Spring Maryland in 1972. There were attacks on Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan each several years later, but the era of the successful “lone gunman” assassin seems to have ended with Arthur Bremmer and the Alabama Governor.

It seems that the world’s puppetmasters simply decided that it was time for a new strategy, because there had never been a decade of political assassinations like 1963-1972 in U.S. history, and there has not been one since. Or did the psychoses which generated “lone gunmen” just ameliorate thanks to sufficient doses of readily available “soma”?

And then in 1992, a decade of incidents of terrorism started in 1992 with the Federal standoff at Ruby Ridge. Immediately after Ruby Ridge, at the start of the Clinton Administration, followed the February 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the tragedy at Waco (Branch Davidian Mount Carmel) and then Okalahoma City 1995.

After Oklahoma City, the “endgame” became more readily apparent: Congress enacted AEDPA, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, origin, source, and precursor of the Patriot Act, most elements of which had been proposed in 1993 after World Trade Center I…..

But even Oklahoma City was not the “new Pearl Harbor”—that had to wait another five years, and then it happened, with 9-11 culminating the decade of domestic terrorism in the United States—and nothing much has happened since, except that Bin Ladin remains at large (allegedly the most wanted criminal in the WORLD—but it’s nice to have him around to keep people fearful—even if he’s actually just retired and gone on vacation to Rio or something) and American Civil Liberties and the Constitution as a whole are all imprisoned, on starvation diet, and will soon die if not released from their “cold steel storage.”

So IMHO there’s a connection between the Kennedy Assassination and 9-11 all right—both are arguably incidents used as tools of U.S. National Policy.

Why are there prisons being built at breakneck speed around the country with Federal Dollars?

Why is Congress criminalizing almost every form of conduct while judges arrogate themselves the power to violate the constitutional rights of every citizen with impunity AND immunity from prosecution?

Why is former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer resigning from the Governorship of New York for involvement with a good-looking hooker when the entire legal profession has prostituted itself to every value for which “America” ever stood? Look at the attached article on the sordid history of the Bush Administration’s attack on a more recent Democratic Governor of Alabama…it is scandalous and inexcusable!

No, indeed, I think that it’s time to admit that with our Government, if you trust them, if you’re NOT paranoid, you’re truly insane and delusional…

There was one candidate this year who MIGHT have changed all this country’s trustworthiness for the better, and like most of my fellow “9-11 Truthers/9-11 Deniers/9-11 Non-Sheep”, Ron Paul was ridiculed and belittled.

We all should feel as though we’re drowning….because we are….

Bush to Veto Waterboarding Bill

Mar 7th, 2008 | WASHINGTON — The White House says President Bush will veto legislation on Saturday that would have barred the CIA from using waterboarding — a technique that simulates drowning — and other harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects.Bush has said the bill would harm the government’s ability to prevent future attacks. Supporters of the legislation argue that it preserves the United States’ right to collect critical intelligence while boosting the country’s moral standing abroad.

“The bill would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror, the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives,” deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto said Friday.

The bill would restrict the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual.

The legislation would bar the CIA from using waterboarding, sensory deprivation or other coercive methods to break a prisoner who refuses to answer questions. Those practices were banned by the military in 2006, but the president wants the harsh interrogation methods to be a part of the CIA’s toolbox.

Backers of the legislation, which cleared the House in December and won Senate approval last month, say the interrogation methods used by the military are sufficient.

“President Bush’s veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a statement Friday. “Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world.”

He noted that the Army field manual contends that harsh interrogation is a “poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the (interrogator) wants to hear.”

Salon provides breaking news articles from the Associated Press as a service to its readers, but does not edit the AP articles it publishes.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

1996-2001—AEDPA, the Patriot Act, and the Death of American Freedom

              “AEDPA” is the common acronym, used by Courts and commentators alike, for the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.  Certain reactionary, authoritarian, corporate and power loving, freedom-hating elements in Congress had been lobbying for years to cut back on Habeas Corpus.  The war on drugs in the 1970s and 1980s had led to a huge increase in the number of Americans behind bars, but even in the 1960s, some judges had been complaining about the large percentage of their caseload that consisted of prisoner civil rights lawsuits and habeas corpus petitions for release or improvement of conditions in the state and federal jails. 
           The U.S. Supreme Court under the stewardship of Chief Justices Earl Warren (whose first but not most lasting contribution to the history of U.S. Civil Rights was, as Governor of California, to implement Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan to intern tens of thousands of Japanese civilians or “Nisei” at the start of and for the duration of the U.S. involvement in World War II) and Warren Burger (who resigned to celebrate the bicentennial of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, which by a strange historical accident coincided almost exactly with the de-facto repeal or abandonment of the same document) had been very lenient and tolerant of “successive petitions” for habeas corpus, especially in capital/death penalty cases.  But respect for the rights of habeas corpus in a world of swelling prison populations and lengthening death rows had the effect of making capital punishment a very slow process in those southern states, especially Texas and Florida (and all the intervening deep south states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia), where the political will to impose the death penalty was stronges, and where the population and electorate was growing at the expense of anti-capital punishment northern states such as Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan.
              When Newt Gingrich and his associates took Congress with their “Contract for America” (which this author and other critics liked to refer to as the “Contract on America”), they immediately began negtiating with the Clinton White House over the terms of a series of judicial and prosecutorial “reforms.” 
              The worst of these were those inspired by the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which itself was timed to commemorate the second anniversary of the April 1993 destruction of the Branch Davidian compound known as Mount Carmel near Waco, Texas (which lies less than an hour’s leisurely drive from the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas).
              No matter how we analyze it, the fact is that, starting in 1992 there was an increase in prominently and dramatically reported incidents of domestic terrorism and/or violent confrontations between law enforcement and the people of this country.  AEDPA was the well-planned “Contract on America” response to what appears to have been this well-planned increase in prominence and drama relating to domestic terrorism in the the U.S., but in 1996, there was only the political will to enact SOME of the provisions of AEDPA—those which curtailed the rights of the convicted, for example, to post-conviction relief to collaterally attack their sentences and/or convictions, i.e., habeas corpus, audita querela, coram nobis, and similar “ancient prerogative writs” (the separate but parallel purposes of each of which was to give real-life meaning to Shakespearian Defense Attorney Portia’s phrase “the quality of mercy is not strained” enunciated in The Merchant of Venice.
            Because habeas corpus is specifically mentioned in and protected by the U.S. Constitution, it could not be abolished completely (although there were those in Congress and the Executive Branch who would have wished to do so), but audita querela and coram nobis (similar but slightly more specialized civil writs used to attack criminal convictions), both used as late as the early 1990s in such far away and obscure American cities as Key West, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Fort Pierce (i.e. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, during this author’s tenure as a judicial lawclerk in that jurisdiction).
            But AEDPA as originally proposed also included massive provisions relating to domestic spying, the use of governmental regulations to collect information on citizens, the wholesale abandonment of “traditional” notions of due process in relation to certain politically targeted or executive-branch selected prosecutions, and the correlative enhancement of the ability to order massive arrests, “sweeps” and dragnets of certain groups under certain arbitrarily designated circumstances called “national emergencies” (if such were declared by the President in his sole discretion).  These provisions were not enacted in 1996, so it was precisely these originally proposed clauses of AEDPA that had to wait until 9/11 and its aftermath to be enacted into law, under the grotesquely false and misleading name of “the Patriot Act”. 
            There is a very fine book which makes a highly critical attack on these later amendments published under the name “How would a Patriot Act: Defending American Values from a President Run Amok” by columnist Glenn Greenwald.  Greenwald’s basic analysis is sound, but he still places too much emphasis on the role of George W. Bush in developing this policy.  A year ago, on March 9, 2007, Greenwald wrote in
“The story here is not merely that the FBI is breaking the law and abusing these powers. That has long been predicted and, to some degree, even documented. The story is that the FBI is ignoring the very legal obligations which George Bush vowed were not obligations at all, but mere suggestions to be accepted only if he willed it. It is yet another vivid example proving that the President’s ideology of lawlessness exists not merely in theory, but as the governing doctrine under which the executive branch has acted, time and again and as deliberately as possible, in violation of whatever laws it deems inconvenient.”

            The phrase “ideology of lawlessness” echoes an almost exactly phrase first made on TV and introduced into the popular consciousness through the long-running Clinton-era series “The X-Files” presented in a fictitious format to a verifacsimile of a Senate in a Seaon IV, Episode 8 (“Tunguska”) hearing by Gillian Anderson (aka Dana Catherine Scully) who described the “culture of lawlessness” by “those beyond prosecution” as the prevailing culture in Washington.

             This episode was “coincidentally” aired for the first time on November 24, 1996—just as the “Contract on America” was becoming understood and finally taking hold.  The X-Files was an interesting series precisely because so many of its episodes were made in direct reaction to and commentary on the politics and news of the 1990s.  There has probably never been so specifically and precisely socially and politically conscious and reactive a television program in the history of the United States (1970s programs like “All in the Family”, although focused on racism and bigotry, almost never directly tracked and commented on news events the way Chris Carters’ “X-Files” did).

            Whether coincidentally or not, another major piece of legislation relevant to those of us interested in the judicial reform movement was passed in 1996, this being the 1996 amendments to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, the section which creates and authorizes a civil lawsuit, legal action for violation of civil rights under U.S. law, no such form of action having existed before about 1868-70 and the adoption of the 14th Amendment which made such an possible or even mandatory in both state and federal court.

           There had been a long-simmering debate about whether judges and judicial actions could be prosecuted under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, and Congress purported to address this issue in the 1996 amendments.  The result was an amendment which was advertized as doing one thing (curtailing or limiting judicial immunity) but whose language in fact appeared to solidify, set in stone, and establish for all times the holding of a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court Case called Pulliam v. Allen

              It is a well fact, an irony of history, that during the 1990s, the Chairmanship of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary passed back and forth between two polar opposites—Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Strom Thurmond—but in the context of the debate leading to the 1996 amendments, it appears that these two were able to craft legislation which may provide one of the few escape valves for the pressure that was destined to build up as a result of the enactment, first, of AEDPA and later of the Patriot Act, but that is the subject of another commentary for another day, because in this author’s opinion, the 1996 amendments to 42 USC Section 1983 are the most important piece of legislation relating to judicial immunity (or the lack thereof) in U.S. history.