Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

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Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

Free Speech Takes a Big Hit in "Bong" Case

| Tue Jun. 26, 2007 1:34 AM EDT

Well, that sure ended badly. The Supreme Court ruled today that public schools can limit students' speech if they express themselves in a way that might be construed as pro-drug. The case in question involved an Alaska student who'd been suspended after he unfurled a tongue-in-cheek banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at a school event. Chief Justice Roberts argued that because the banner just might give someone the idea that toking up is OK, it could be suppressed: ''The message on Frederick's banner is cryptic. But Principal Morse thought the banner would be interpreted by those viewing it as promoting illegal drug use, and that interpretation is plainly a reasonable one." By that standard, couldn't someone reasonably interpret the banner as a religious message and therefore demand its protection? Apparently not.

When this case hit the docket a few months ago, I figured it would be a novelty. Boy, was I wrong. The decision was 5-4, but you already knew that, right?

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More on Our New Fourth Branch of Government

| Fri Jun. 22, 2007 6:20 PM EDT

Ever-helpful White House spokesperson Dana Perino addresses the curious question of whether Dick Cheney is his own special branch of government:

Q: Do you agree with the contention that the Office of the Vice President is not part of the executive branch?

MS. PERINO: What I know -- and I am not a lawyer; and this is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate and I'm sure you'll find plenty of them inside the beltway -- is that the Vice President has a unique role in our United States government. He is not only the Vice President of the United States, but in that role he is also the President of the Senate. I will let him go ahead and --

Q: So there's a fourth branch of government.

MS. PERINO: -- I will let that debate be held.

So Cheney's not part of the executive because he's part of the legislative branch. Fascinating. And you gotta love Perino's deft use of the old "We've Made Up Our Minds, But You're Welcome to Debate This" move from the Bush Rhetorical Playbook.

Dick Cheney: Check and Balance This!

| Thu Jun. 21, 2007 9:14 PM EDT
3branches.gif

Quick, forget everything you learned in 5th-grade social studies (or Election) about the three branches of government. You know, the executive, judicial, and legislative. Now it turns out we actually have four branches of government. Like so many of the interesting new things we've learned about how the federal government is really supposed to work, this head-scratcher comes from Dick Cheney. Rep. Henry Waxman's government oversight committee has the details:

The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an "entity within the executive branch." [emphasis mine]

So there you have it. There's a fourth branch of government, and its name is Dick Cheney. But what should the official name be? How about the "extracurricular branch"? Add your naming suggestions in the comments.

George W. Bush Walks Into a Bar...

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 4:24 PM EDT

While we're on the subject of what Bush eats and drinks, I'm curious what people think about this photo:

bush_beer.gif

That's Bush enjoying a frosty mug of low-alcohol beer (a Buckler, to be precise) between sessions at the G8 summit. It's not the first time the teetotaler-in-chief has been caught on film downing a near beer (even though he apparently used to try to hide his habit from the press.) But I wonder why a recovering alcoholic would choose to drink a low-alcohol beer (Buckler is 0.5% alcohol). My sense is that it has less to do with the smooth, refreshing taste than simply wanting to be convivial. You can imagine Bush feeling like a wuss while his world-leader buddies enjoy a stiff drink (though tough guy Vladmir Putin reputedly abstains). But there's still the question of whether he should be drinking fake beer. There's an AA saying that "Nonalcoholic beer is for nonalcoholics." So is this a sign of Bush's recklessness—or his self-discipline? Or should we get a life and just let the guy enjoy the ice cold beverage of his choosing?

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