Judicial ups and downs

Plus poppy hypocrisy, pressuring the Pope, and even more ‘Buttercup’ trivia
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  March 24, 2010

It was about time that Rogeriee Thompson was finally confirmed (unanimously, we might add) by the United States Senate for what amounts to an historic spot on the Federal Court of Appeals. You know how we feel — she is the best and the Biggest Little can be justifiably proud of this distinguished jurist.

But, every time your superior correspondents think that things are looking up in the realm of American justice . . . .

We were reading an article in last week’s New Yorker, a profile of the venerable Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens by Jeffrey Toobin. At the end of the first paragraph Toobin was discussing the habits of the various Justices in engaging in oral arguments before the court. It was mentioned that Justice Clarence Thomas had “not asked a question since 2006.”

P&J can only surmise that this means that either Justice Thomas is amazingly incurious or that he already has his mind made up about the many cases heard before the court in the past four years.

Either way, it seems that what we had thought about this man since the infamous hearings that led to his embattled confirmation still holds true: he is someone who does not embody the qualities and temperament that one should expect from a Supreme Court Justice.

And now it is reported that his wife has become an active and enthusiastic participant in the Tea Party movement. Sleep tight.

JUST SAY “YES!”
In case you missed the story, which was featured prominently above the fold on the front page of the New York Times on March 21, the US and NATO military forces in Afghanistan have decided not to eradicate opium poppy fields in Marja, where those troops recently forced out the Taliban in a huge offensive.

Not only does this mean that the opium trade, which includes heroin trafficking, will be allowed to thrive, but Afghan officials have made it clear that the Taliban are prime beneficiaries of the illegal trade: “The Taliban are the ones who profit from opium, so you are letting your enemy get financed by this so he can turn around and kill you back,” a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics told the Times. Hey, kind of like the US supplying arms to the Taliban when they fought the Russians — arms which are now doing time killing American soldiers.

OK, so there’s a big conundrum here: destroying farmers’ opium poppy crops is not the best way to win the hearts and minds of the locals. But this is yet one more example of US drug policies that are laughable to begin with. We have drama-queen fainting spells over the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana. And penny-ante crack dealers are populating our prisons with absurd sentences — serving at the government’s pleasure and the taxpayers’ expense. Meanwhile big-time coke and heroin dealers, in concert with organized crime syndicates here and abroad, look more and more like legally untouchable multi-national corporations. There they are: sitting in VIP nightclub lounges with their personal bottles of Stoli and Grey Goose, snorting primo flake coke from gold spoons and laughing all the way to the bank.

UP IN SMOKE?
The pressure continues to build on our buddy in the Vatican, Joe Ratzinger. (Didn’t he also play Cliff Clavin in Cheers? What a career!)

Pope Bendover let the Irish child-molesting priests off with barely a slap on the wrist and with more revelations coming out about his actions as Archbishop of Munich, people are actually talking about him stepping down as the man in the red shoes. This is virtually unthinkable, but it may be that Joe is indeed on the way out and we’ll be checking that chimney at the Holy See for a puff of white smoke in the not-too-distant future.

Note: Maureen Dowd’s Sunday New York Times column about the multitude of nuns who supported the health care bill in spite of concerns that it could somehow subsidize abortions was remarkable. The nuns are regarded as second-class citizens in the old-boy Catholic Church hierarchy of priests, bishops, and cardinals: it reminds P+J somewhat of a hospital where the doctors (bishops, et al.) swan through once a day and then turn the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour care over to the real heavy lifters, the nurses (nuns).

UNHEALTHY DIALOGUE
America has a sickness now that no health care bill can solve. It is the hope in some quarters that the presidency of Barack Obama does not succeed. It started out with fat drug addict Rush Limbaugh’s blowhard statement when Obama was elected, and has now spread to the entire GOP and Orrin Hatch types in Congress, who should know better. The people who block legitimate legislative initiatives not out of concern for the merits, but out of partisanship — just to foil their perceived “enemy” — are no more than traitors to the country. Never mind the quasi-terrorist imbeciles of the Tea Party. It’s a sad day in America, although we are eagerly waiting to see Rush follow up on his promise to leave the US now that the health care bill is going through.

R.I.P., FESS
With apologies to Charles Mingus and his pork pie hat, “Goodbye coonskin hat” upon the death of Fess Parker, renowned for playing both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on TV. OK, baby boomers, one last time for the old pioneer, and you know the tune these lyrics accompany by heart, so belt it out:

Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
Greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree
Killed him a b’ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier

Thank you. Next week: Was Spin and Marty the inspiration for Brokeback Mountain?

OOPS!
From a March 24 posting on the Web site of the South County Independent, a fine newspaper, but . . .

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