The Original American Malcontent

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

Friday, September 23, 2005

God on Our Side?

Here are some interesting articles for today, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about spin. In dozens of newpapers around the country today the front pages tout the slogan “Texas Exodus” in reference to the evacuation of Texans from Austin and surrounding areas. This use of this phrase,brings up biblical images of Moses leading his people out of Egypt into the desert towards the promised land.

This of course equates the residents of Austin with the notion of being a chosen people, a people that has God’s support to do whatever they damn well please. This is a striking contrast to the poor residents of New Orleans who have been referred to as refugees and insurgents, frankly I’m surprised they didn’t call them Philistines. This whole notion of our nation identifying itself with the judeo/christian creation myth really unsettles me. In America we say that we support equality, we say we support compassion, but those ideals rarely even show up in the old testement, the old testement seemed to be about a lot of betrayal, killing, invasions, coercion, slavery and a brutal system of laws that could even condone killing your own children for being disobediant, the system of law given to the chosen people by their god could only be described today as tyranny.

Of course you could say that the people just mis-interpreted the will of their god, but then what about that same god, who did not believe in equality, that god that chose favorites among his creations and acted like a jealous child when he did not get his way, the god that terrorized the people of Egypt by killing their babies, the god that reportedly dropped the equivalent of the Atomic bomb on Soddom and Gomorrah. This is the god the fundamentalists that run our country admire and emulate. But of course we don’t talk about that as a nation, we talk about the nice things that are said in the book of John that make us feel good, we use the positive myth of the son to cover up the terrorism of the father. Ah but they tell us they are the same, three in one, a schizophrenic god that can’t make up his mind whether to love or kill, to embrace or decemate. Zarathustra said that god is dead, I say god needs meds.


Senate Democrats Request Briefings on Iraq, Al Qaeda
Congressional Democrats, signaling plans to become more assertive about Iraq, yesterday asked the director of national intelligence to brief senators on conditions there, including whether the conflict has strengthened Islamic terrorists rather than weakened them.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/22/AR2005092202037.html

Abramoff Claimed Ties to Administration
Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/22/AR2005092202204.html

Timeline of U.S. Sponsored Terrorism
The Center for Cooperative Research has put together a timelineof U.S. sponsored terrorism.
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=us_terror

Senator Feinstein Votes Against Judge Roberts

Dear Mr. McAuley:

Thank you for writing me with your thoughts on the
nomination of Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. to replace Chief Justice
William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court. I appreciate hearing
from you.

I voted against Judge Roberts' confirmation and have
enclosed the full statement I made in the Judiciary Committee
which further elucidates my position. Please know that I welcome
your thoughts and hope that you will continue to keep me informed
of your opinions.

Once again, thank you for sharing your views with me.
Should you have any additional questions or comments, please feel
free to contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841.


Statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein in Opposition to the
Nomination of
Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be Chief Justice
September 22, 2005

Washington, DC - Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
today voted to oppose the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr.
to be Chief Justice. The following is the text of the statement
Senator Feinstein delivered during the Committee meeting:

"There is no question that Judge Roberts is an
extraordinary person. I think there is no question that he has many
stellar qualities, certainly a brilliant legal mind and a love and
abiding respect for the law, and I think a sense of its scope and
complexity as well.

But before taking the momentous step of agreeing that a
nominee serve as the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, for what
in this case could be over 30 years, I wanted to have a reasonable
sense of confidence that he would uphold certain essential legal
rights and protections that Americans rely on, and rights that
reflect the values and ideals that make our country so great.

I don't ask for certainty.

I don't ask for promises - especially as to how a nominee
would rule in any case in the future - even one as important as Roe
v. Wade.

But I ask for some ability to find a commitment to broad
legal principles that form the basis of our fundamental rights:

* Equal protection under the law, and the ability to
remedy discrimination.

* A basic right to privacy that extends from the beginning
of life to the end of life.

* The ability of the American public to elect
representatives that have the constitutional power and
authority to protect and respond to America's safety,
social, and environmental needs; and

* A view of Executive Power that extends deference -
but within the law.

It's important to know that a Justice will be willing to at
least start with these fundamental rights.

In making the judgment as to how Judge Roberts evaluates
these fundamental rights, I must start with his record.

As a young lawyer in government service, he was involved
in the most important issues of the day and issues that continue to
be critical to this day. He was in positions to advise the most
important lawyers in the Executive Branch.

In these positions, he advanced arguments opposing many
of these fundamental rights, and, when asked whether he disagreed
with any of those positions today - some even more extreme than
his superiors adopted - he did not disagree with virtually any of
them.

I asked him about a series of written comments and margin
notes that appeared to demonstrate a denigrating view of issues
impacting women.

I said it appears he used a very acerbic pen or else he really
thought that way. Then I gave him an opportunity to distance
himself, to say that he was a young lawyer and would not use that
language today, or whatever it might be, to distance himself.

I expected him to admit that the derogatory comments
about women were wrong or that at least he regretted making
them.

Instead, Judge Roberts responded, "Senator, I have always
supported and support today equal rights for women, particularly
in the workplace."
When Senator Schumer asked him a similar question he
received a disappointing response.
Senator Schumer said, "So my question is not the
substance, but do you regret the tone of some of these memos? Do
you regret some of the inartful phrases you used in those memos, a
reference to 'illegal amigos' in one memo?" Again, an easy
question with an obvious response.
Instead, Judge Roberts responded, "Senator, in that
particular memo, for example, it was a play on the standard
practice of many politicians, including President Reagan."

If Judge Roberts had provided different answers to these
questions, he could have easily demonstrated to us that wisdom
comes with age, and a sense of his own autonomy. But he did
neither.

Simply put, I didn't find the argument that he was just an
employee doing what his boss wanted him to do to be credible.

When discussing his work while Principal Deputy Solicitor
General, where he argued to overturn Roe and advanced many
other troubling positions, we received similar dispassionate
answers.

Not only did he refuse to disavow the tone used in his
earlier memos, he also refused to disavow many of the positions he
advocated while in the Solicitor General's office.

I had hoped he would have given some indication that,
even if he would not tell me what he thought about a particular
case, he would tell the Committee that he believed in a general
right to privacy. But he refused.

Senator Schumer specifically asked whether Judge Roberts
agreed that there is a "general" right to privacy provided in the
Constitution.

His response was, "I wouldn't use the phrase 'general,'
because I don't know what that means."
Then when I couldn't get a sense of his judicial philosophy,
I attempted to get a sense of his temperament and values. And I
asked him about end of life decisions - clearly, decisions that are
gut-wrenching, difficult, and extremely personal.
Rather than talking to me as a son, a husband, a father -
which I specifically requested that he do. He gave a very detached
response:
"Well, Senator, in that situation, obviously, you want to
talk and take into account the views and heartfelt concerns
of the loved one that you're trying to help in that situation,
because you know how they are viewing this."
I also asked him about how he planned to be in touch with
"the problems real people have out there?"
And once again, rather than discussing the importance of
reaching out to communities that he normally would not be in
contact with, and spending time to understand the problems that
average people face, in my communities of Hunters Point, of East
L.A., of some of the agriculture areas of our state, he mentioned
the attendance at soccer games with his family. Now, that is a
slice of life, true, but it is a very narrow slice of life.
His answer failed to recognize the point of the question and
the concern about staying in touch with people who have different
life experiences.
Several Senators asked him about whether he could admit
he made a mistake when he was wrong.
Senator Biden asked him about a very specific legal term
regarding what kind of review the Court should give to cases
involving gender discrimination.

Rather than clarifying his position or admitting he was
wrong to argue for a lesser standard, Judge Roberts said he was
using two very different legal terms interchangeably.
He stated, "And, Senator, the memorandum is using
'heightened scrutiny' the way you use 'strict scrutiny,' which is
scrutiny that's limited to the basis of race."
Now, it seems hard to believe that such a sophisticated
jurist would interchange these two well-defined legal terms. This
was brought to my attention by a lawyer. I didn't know about it. I
have asked other lawyers. They all said this is something you
learn about during the first year of law school. That they are not in
fact interchangeable.
I posed a series of questions regarding the Plyler case,
which had to do with Texas statutes that prohibited illegal alien
children from going to public schools. I asked him, "Do you
believe you were wrong? Could you say you were wrong if you
believed you were wrong?"
And again, I got an unsatisfactory response. I had given
him the memo. I had asked him to review it overnight. The
response I got was, "I have no quarrel with the Court's decision."
I was struck as I reread the transcript by his use of the line
"I have no quarrel with" five times in referencing the Plyler case,
the Eisenstadt case and other cases.
Then I went back and read Judge Thomas' transcript and he
used that phrase numerous times on eight different topics.

And yet when faced with these topics on the Court, he took
a position indicating that he did in fact have a quarrel with the
case. On abortion, on Church and State separation, on precedent,
and on the Commerce Clause he took a clear position that
contradicted his use of the words, "I have no quarrel with it."

So I came to believe that "I have no quarrel with it" is a
term of art of equivocation, frankly.

Judge Roberts used this phrase when discussing 5 topics
adoption rights, the right to privacy as applied to a single person,
Title IX and remedies, the Americans with Disabilities Act and its
application to States, and Plyler.

So does this mean that he, too, will have a quarrel with
these issues when they come before him?

Now, I realized this past week, after reading and rereading
the transcripts and going over his answers to the questions that I
felt that I knew as little about what Judge Roberts really thought
after the hearing as I did before the hearings.

This makes it very hard for me, because he was very young
when he wrote many of these memos.

And yet, when we asked to review his memos from 16
cases when he was Principal Deputy Solicitor General, we were
denied those documents, which denied us the ability to really see
whether his thinking had changed or matured.

What remains is the few years on the Circuit Court, where
virtually all of the 50 cases -- over 40 were unanimous -- were
relatively uncontroversial in the nature of the decision.

So, I can not in good conscience, cast a "yea" vote. I will
cast a "no" vote.

However, I also expect that a majority of my colleagues in
the Senate will vote for his confirmation. I respect their decision.

I take this position mindful of the fact that Judge Roberts
will very likely be our next Chief Justice and I hope and pray that
when he serves in that most important post he will do so in a way
that protects and preserves our Nation's fundamental strengths and
some of our most important laws and protections of people.

I basically believe that once someone has earned a right
they should not lose that right and the rights coming before the
court in this upcoming session and in future sessions are really
critical rights.

I am the only woman on this committee. And when I
started, I said that was going to be my bar. He didn't cross my bar.

Thank you very much."





Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator
http://feinstein.senate.gov

Thursday, September 15, 2005

"Stonewall" Roberts

In His Own Words
Members of the Radical Right who vehemently opposed consultation and consensus like Jay Sekulow and James Dobson are supporting the nomination of John Roberts. What do the White House and the Radical Right know about John Roberts? Compare the statements made by leaders in the Radical Right before and after the Roberts nomination.

Published Opinions of Judge John Roberts
Eh this stuff is some tedious reading, but if you want to find out Roberts opionions on some particular cases, here it is.

National Association of Manufacturers Endorse John Roberts
…studies show that 80 percent of a federal judge’s civil caseload – slightly lower for the Supreme Court –is made up of issues that directly impact business and manufacturing: contract law, employment law, regulatory issues, and property rights.

A Little Fun with Roberts
A game show parody of the Roberts confirmation hearing.
Roberts and the Federalist SocietyRoberts was a member of the steering committee of the far-right Federalist Society, whose leadership is overwhelmingly anti-choice and believes that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Click here to find out more about the Federalist Society.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Letter to Congress

President Bush has given lip service to the notion of taking responsibility for our nations failure to respond adequately to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe.  Now is the time for an independent commission to investigate every facet of this scenario and to hold those responsible accountable for their complicity.

In addition to an independent commission to determine what went wrong and how it could have been prevented, we also need to take a good hard look at poverty in America and ask ourselves the tough questions.

 
Can we eliminate poverty through a purely capitalist free market system?  If not, how can ALL Americans expect to achieve the equality promised by our Constitution?

Do we as a nation put business/economic interests before the commonwealth of the people?  If so, how can we as a nation change that paradigm to one that values quality of life for all Americans instead of just the handful at the top?

The single greatest way to eliminate the problems associated with poverty is to eliminate poverty, if that requires a greater safety net for our nations poor, or a redistribution of wealth and the redistribution of the means of production to the workers, then we need to take a good hard look at that.

Our response as a nation to this disaster shines a spotlight on the classism prevalent in this country, from wall Street and the White House all the way down to local authority. The American people need a change, now.

Our current generation of politicians has two choices. The first choice is to do nothing and wait for a class war to begin.  The second choice would be to begin to make changes at the top and avoid the chaos that will ensue if the working poor take matters into their own hands. 

The situation in New Orleans has shown us the levels to which people will go when they are desperate.  Is that the way we want to see our entire nation go down? Address poverty now and avoid that inevitable future.



Thursday, September 08, 2005

Go Fuck Yourself!

Go Fuck YourselfVice President Dick Cheney, in Gulfport, Mississippi on a tour of the Katrina hurricane zone, was told to "go fuck yourself" twice on live television, RAW STORY has learned.

Katrina, An Asshole, Kissinger, Zinn and the UN

10 Great Ways You Can Help
Let's not let our clumsy, uncaring government undermine our capacity to help those in need. Here are 10 outstanding endeavors that deserve our support.

Schwarzenegger Vows To Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill
No need for a lead in on this one…

Questions for Kissinger Go Unasked
While visiting Paris in May, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger received a summons to appear at the French Palace of Justice to answer questions about murders and disappearances in Chile in the 1970s. While the story was carried by major European news outlets, it has received relatively little coverage in U.S. media.

Occupied zones
By Howard Zinn
There are killings every day in Iraq. Occupying troops, diplomats, aid workers and media people are killed, as are Iraqis, in far greater numbers. But President George Bush’s war is not only against opponents in Iraq and the Middle East: it is a war against his fellow Americans.

UN report says that parts of America are as poor as the Third WorldClaims that the New Orleans floods have laid bare a growing racial and economic divide in the US have, until now, been rejected by the American political establishment as emotional rhetoric. But yesterday's UN report provides statistical proof that for many - well beyond those affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - the great American Dream is an ongoing nightmare.

Katrina Shines the Light on the Compassionate Conservative

BUSH RUSHES TO FLOOD SITEORDERS EMERGENCY TAX CUTS
Greg PalastNew Orleans - Reminding the residents of Gulf Coast that, if can they can find their missing loved ones, they will qualify for the new higher exemption on inheritance taxes. "Don't think of them as lost, think of them as floating tax deductions!"

Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath:
A Crisis Papers Special Edition
Hurricane Katrina was The Perfect Storm, predicted and predictable, and yet the Federal response to the victims of this Category Five hurricane was chillingly and perhaps criminally lackadaisical, unfeeling, late and insufficient. Not surprising, actually, as this is George Bush's usual days-late-and-a-dollar-short response to tragedies. He is solipsism personified.

Bush's Second Gulf Disaster
Terry Lynn Karl
President Bush has asked that Americans not “play politics” at this moment of terrible national disaster. But asking hard questions of our nation’s leaders is exactly what democracy demands when the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina is widely viewed as “a national disgrace.”

New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize By George FriedmanSeptember 01, 2005 22 30 GMT -- The American political system was founded in Philadelphia, but the American nation was built on the vast farmlands that stretch from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. That farmland produced the wealth that funded American industrialization: It permitted the formation of a class of small landholders who, amazingly, could produce more than they could consume. They could sell their excess crops in the east and in Europe and save that money, which eventually became the founding capital of American industry