Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Democrats Unable to "Hold the Line" in the Senate

The cloture vote yesterday to prevent the filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito resulted in a Mexican standoff in the Senate. The ultime goal, of course, was to block his nomination. The combatants were the progressive Democrats, "movement Republicans," and the moderates from both parties. Instead of a stalemate, the gutless moderate Democrats blinked first and gave the reactionary Republicans bragging rights and the Supreme Court another member in good standing of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society.

Moreover, the moderate Democrats will give Bush a huge win the day he delivers the State of the Union address. Because many of these Senate mods are from red states they appear to care more about their political careers than the values of both the national Democratic Party and the Democratic citizens that elected them.

The Democrats were only able to secure 25 of the 41 needed votes in order to pull off the filibuster parliamentary procedure. In fact, many Democrats voted to end the filibuster even though they will vote against Alito today. The fictional General Maximus, in the film Gladiator, screamed to his troops in the thick of the Germania campaign, "Hold the line," however, it's apparent Democrats were not ready to do battle, not when it counts.

To be sure, "movement conservatives" were definitely able to hold the line and were ready for combat when Bush nominated Harriet Myers a few months ago. They are not timid about using every political arsenal available to them, including intimidating George W. Bush. Another good example of aggressive Republicans is how Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was able to pull off his redistricting scam in Texas and, consequently, was able to gain a few more Republican seats in the Lone Star State. He was merciless in his approach and it was unprecedented.

Yes, it's true that the filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee has never been used against a nominee supported by a Senate majority and some argue that the filibuster of Alito would set a dangerous precedent. So what? These days are difficult political times, and, as in the redistricting plan in Texas, Republicans are setting new precedents all the time. Another good example of setting inventive precedents is how Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist campaigned against then Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota in 2004, an unheard of move in a Senate long known for its collegiality and folkways.

Steve Clemmons with the New America Foundation notes about the Democratic Alito confirmation strategy in general:
No one "owned" this battle in the progressive community, and those who rallied troops at the end were encouraged by the cynical electioneering stances of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and others. I believe Ted Kennedy's opposition was real, as was Pat Leahy's -- but the machine against Alito should have been launched day one.
The reason I fear Samuel Alito's confirmation is not the abortion issue (read Susan Estrich analysis in the Mercury News). Like Clemmons I fear Alito because the egregious abuses from the executive branch witnessed during the Nixon years should be behind us, but with Bush in The White House, and Alito in the Court, I fear we may be revisiting history due to the potential widening of executive power. Many judicial analysts have made the case that Alito very often backs executive power and the "unitary executive" theory will soon be tested in the Supreme Court.

Clemons adds:
Alito will contribute to a vast expansion of Executive Power, and this will seriously harm our democracy...Dems will rue the day that they let Alito pass; so will moderate Republicans; and so will independent-minded Americans who value our system of checks and balances. I think that there have been some real heroes doing their best against Alito -- but the Democratic establishment is still inchoate and without the backbone to fight consistently against the White House.
Democrats should not be timid in using every legal and ethical option available to them. Hard line Republicans certainly are not afraid; witness the Harriet Meyers nomination. Republican operatives forced Bush to pull the nomination and placed in her stead a far right wing, more than likely, "movement conservative." Why should Democrats not use the established parliamentary procedure in the Senate known as the filibuster? To refuse to do so is foolish because time and time again Republicans have taken a "no prisoners" strategy towards the Democrats and others who they disagree with; ask Republican Harriet Meyers. As Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said, "[Meyers was] a good woman treated so poorly, and the people who destroyed her are being rewarded by the Alito nomination."

I say, shame, shame, shame on the Democratic Senators, who have not learned to hold the line and fight. That's why they were elected to the office in the first place: to fight for the values of the people who elected them to office.


To read Susan Estrich's op-ed piece about Alito and the abortion issue Click Here.

To read the New York Times article that reviews how the Republicans have learned to fight Click Here.

Monday, January 30, 2006

State of the Union: Should Democratic Lawmakers Walk Out on Bush?

Recently a few well known Democratic political activists have been making the case that Democratic lawmakers in Congress should walk out when President Bush enters the Capitol House chamber to give his State of the Union address on Tuesday. As readers of the Splinters Team Blog know, I'm a rabid Democratic partisan and activist. To be sure, we are in a metaphorical war with our antagonists the Republican "movement conservatives," but I disagree with this far-fetched suggestion.

This is the argument espoused recently by William Rivers Pitt:

I have a wild and crazy idea. George W. Bush's delivery of the State of the Union address will take place on Tuesday, January 31, a little more than a week from now. It is my strong belief that every single Democrat present in the House chamber for the speech should, at a predetermined moment, stand up and walk out. No yelling. No heated words. Every Democrat should simply stand silently and leave.
Americans of all political stripes—Democrats, Republican, Greens, independents, and others—should respect the Office of the Presidency, although not necessarily the person holding that office. Moreover, in the Constitution of the Unites States, it does quite unequivocally state that the president shall "from time to time give Congress Information of the State of the Union." So, it is the duty of Democratic lawmakers to participate in a function mandated in the Constitution.

Also, the move would probably backfire as Republican operatives, acting as spinmeisters after the speech, would claim that Democrats have no respect for the presidential office, and make moderate Republicans and independents who have turned on Bush (hence his low popularity ratings) go back into the anyone but a Democrat tent. There is certain amount of decorum that Americans should follow no matter who holds the executive office. Showing up during the address is that certain amount of decorum. In short, the gesture will be seen as a "cheap political stunt."

Besides how can we get "every single Democrat" to walk out. I'm not even sure we can carry out an Alito filibuster in the Senate right now. Democrats, even more than Republicans, tend be "political entrepreneurs" rather than hard-core party loyalists. This is true because in America we have a weak party system unlike, let's say, in Britain where the political Parties help their candidates every step of the way in getting elected. In America, it’s often catch-as-catch-can.

However, having said that, I do think Democratic lawmakers should dramatically curtail and limit much of the standing, cheering, and applause that always follow after certain comments are made by presidents during their address. And, if Bush says something idiotic (one never knows), like defending in his address the clearly illegal wiretappings done by the National Security Agency as legal because Congress gave him the necessary authority force to protect the American people, this Democrat would not mind Democratic lawmakers yelling in unison, much like they do in Britain’s parliament, "Shame, shame, shame."

Where we Democrats will get the law-breaking Bush is in the Courts (the ACLU has filed a law suit over the clearly illegal wiretappings) and in Congressional hearings. In fact, Sen. Arlen Specter (R- Pennsylvania), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has convened for a February 6th hearing; thank God for the Republican moderates who follow their conscience and follow the law and are not beholding to a radical national political party—Sen. Specter is clearly not a "movement conservative."

That's where we'll get Bush and just in time because, as the leader of his party, it will certainly hurt Republican lawmakers running for office in the mid-term elections coming up in November. I bet my lunch money that many Republicans will distance themselves from Bush in the upcoming elections and, as such, it becomes problematic for Bush to advance his political agenda. I say Bush is a lame duck president with three years to go.

Yes, I’m looking forward to tuning in on Tuesday and see how many lies and obfuscations Bush will deliver. The speech will be great fodder for progressive bloggers like the Splinters Team Blog.

Let’s get him, progressives.

For information about the ACLU suit click here.

For information about the additional clients in the NSA SPY-PROGRAM ACLU suit click here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lying Weasels

I know I said my next post was slated for Monday, but, I could not help myself after hearing a "load of bull" from the lying mouth of press secretary Scott McClellan.

The issue: Sen. John Kerry calling for a Senatorial filibuster regarding the Samuel Alito Supreme Court nomination.

Background: Where was Senator Kerry when he made his statement to the press? According to the Los Angeles Times, Kerry was at the World Economic Forum, along with many Republican Senators, at Davos, Switzerland.

So what did that lying Bush weasel McClellan flack say to the press about Senator's Kerry's statement?
This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland. I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps.
When I first heard the story on CNN the reporters never bothered to inform the viewers why Senator Kerry was in Switzerland. After all CNN should air the story with some kind of coherent context.

I just don't know how the media, by and large, believes anything that comes out of Bush spin machine operatives like McClellan. Yet, the press buys off the mendacity fed by the Bushies time and time again. Journalists, print and broadcast, should do a little fact finding before they report anything said by the White House lackeys found in the Bush Administration.

Conclusion: Not only is CNN's coverage poor journalism, but, again, I ask, as I always do: What liberal freakin' media? Amazing!

Note: Comparing Bush's rascals to the energetic weasel is truly unfair to the "weasel" Musteliade family.

Friday, January 27, 2006

We Recommend a Blog

Team Splinters will be taking the week-end off. I'll be back on Monday with a piece about the upcoming State of the Union address.

In the mean time Team Splinters member Lawrence DiStasi recommends Seth Abramson, a fellow blogger. Seth Abramson has been covering the completely illegal wiretappings with gusto.

We refer you here: Seth Abramson.

This is especially a good piece: read here.

In Unity.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Joe Bageant, essayist

Guest Blogger: Diane Altadena, Southern Calif.

This is an amazing piece, worth every second of reading. It's refreshing and heartbreaking at the same time to identify so much of Bageant's description of modern American culture and its decline. I especially agree with Bageant's take on consumerism and the loss of creative thinking in our children (and adults)... most of the images in their heads are placed there...for them. We throw the concept of "freedom" around so loosely, but one wonders if we really know what it means anymore.

See: The Simulacran Republic.

Also, I include a website to read an interview with Joe Bageant... an old hippie, to be sure, but a cogent, wise philosopher, at best.

See: Interview with Joe Bageant (2004).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Trashing the Constitution

The President and his men have rolled out their big guns in a desperate attempt to convince the American people that their wiretapping of Americans was lawful. As part of that attempt, General Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency (NSA) which did the spying, held a press conference on Monday, January 23, in which he revealed the core issue in this lurid chapter of presidential arrogance.

First, he repeatedly asserted that the NSA program targeted communications "that we have reason to believe are Al-Qaeda communications" or "someone we believe is associated with Al-Qaeda" or something that "we have a reasonable basis to believe involved Al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates." A Knight-Ridder reporter honed in on these statements with a question relating to the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. He asked if the NSA didn’t have to have "probable cause" to justify such wiretapping, to determine who, in fact, should be wiretapped.

Here is where General Hayden revealed the true core of the government’s liability and ignorance. He said that there was no requirement in the 4th Amendment to conform to "probable cause" but only that the search had to be "reasonable." It could not constitute an "unreasonable search and seizure," he said. The reporter persisted about probable cause and again General Hayden insisted that the only requirement in the Constitution was the government's "reasonable belief" that the communication involved Al-Qaeda.

Here, unknowingly, the then head of NSA provided the real smoking guns regarding the government's motives. The first is ignorance. We have the highest ranking officer in the National Security Agency, someone who had, throughout his remarks, assured his audience that the NSA officers making decisions about whom to spy on were "experts and lawyers who know the law better than anyone" and he is ignorant of the most fundamental legal constraint in the Constitution! That provision is contained in the 4th Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
And it guarantees that no American’s person or property can be violated, cannot be searched or seized, except for probable cause. That is, before a judge will give a warrant legal authority to police officers to search an American’s person or property, that judge must be given probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. This amendment was written and adopted to prevent dictators or kings or secret police from simply entering a person's premises because they "think" or "believe" or "say" that the person is guilty of something. They must be able to convince a judge that "probable cause" of a crime exists before they can search and/or arrest that person.

With his breathtaking remark, General Hayden not only displayed his ignorance of the Constitution, he also displayed the ignorance and, equally, the arrogance of the Bush administration, which clearly believes that the President and the entire Executive Branch need only conform to part of the 4th Amendment. It need only assert to itself that a search is "reasonable," or that it has a "reasonable belief" that an American is somehow related to terrorism, to justify its searches, in this case its spying on his communications.

It does not have to supply "probable cause" to convince a judge, in this case a judge of the FISA Court, that its proposed spying is reasonable or necessary. It does not have to convince anyone of anything. It simply has to assert its "reasonable belief" that someone is somehow connected to terrorism (it does not have to say how) in order to spy on any American.

This is the definition of a king, of a tyrant, of a dictator. The dictator simply says: "I know what is right. I know what the country needs to be safe. I know whom to suspect and whom to arrest and whom to torture and whom to keep jailed for as long as I determine it is necessary. And no one, not the Congress, not the Courts, not the people, not anyone can challenge my judgment."

America’s founding fathers so often publicly venerated by this administration and its apologists wrote a Constitution expressly to prevent such a dictator (in this case the King of England) from ever again oppressing a people with actions based on his orders alone.

The 4th Amendment is a bedrock of that Constitution, a bedrock of the system of "laws not men" that they devised. This administration must not be allowed to get away with the trashing of that system of laws, for if they do, we shall be once again at the mercy of a tyrannical government ruled by men and not laws, men both ignorant and contemptuous of that founding document which the President in private has called "a goddam piece of paper."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Osama, Bush and the Thrust for Power

Part Two of Two

Guest Blogger: Dave Amos, Arcadia, Calif.

Why did Bush invade? Get familiar with the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-con think tank based in Washington DC, and it all comes together. One of the sub silentio aims of PNAC is to dominate the world oil market by gaining political control of the Middle East.

The purpose of the Iraq War, in my view, is as follows:

(1) Maintain American ability to remain the world’s #1 economic and military power (the two are co-dependent), and

(2) Allow Western Oil Interests (especially American oil interests) to become the dominant economic force in the world and thus further enrich the establishment even further.

But beyond this quasi-ideological reason for invading, there was another reason: to promote the idea that Bush’s war on terrorism was a real “shooting” war, and that thus, Bush is a “War President.” This is important, for this provides the pretext for Bush to expand the powers of the executive branch of our government and to offset the built-in system of checks and balances provided in our Constitution. Thus, we see the promotion of the odiferous concept of the “unitary executive” president.

Get this straight, folks, Bush invaded for reasons of American domestic eco/politics, and not because of his fancied “war on terror.”

But Bush was able to sell the American people (but not most of the rest of the world) on the Iraq War was part of the war on terror. The American people are slowly becoming aware that Bush’s war on terror is built on a house of cards comprised of a fabric of lies.

As readers of history are well aware, it is a standard ploy, used over and over again by political and/or military leaders who strive for more and more power, to get what they want on the domestic scene by scaring the wits out of their citizens by promoting the idea of an outside threat to the very existence of their country.

Sometimes the threat is made up of whole cloth, sometimes the threat is greatly exaggerated, and sometimes the threat is very real. Mostly, however, the threat is greatly exaggerated, and so it has been with the threat of terror. Was 9-11 horrible? Yes. Is Osama bin Laden a danger to the citizenry of the United States (and other nations)? Yes. Is Osama bin Laden and his ilk a danger to the very existence of the United States? Not even close.

Did Iraq under Saddam do horrible things, such as his invasion of Kuwait? Yes, of course. However, the Gulf War and the international sanctions that followed made Saddam/Iraq become a small threat to anyone outside the borders of Iraq.

Was the threat of in 2002 a danger to the US citizenry? No.

Was the threat of in 2002 a danger to the very existence of the US? No.

Was Iraq a logical place to massively undertake a war on terrorism? By no means.

Did Bush and his cohorts (including the willing media) promote the idea that Osama bin Laden is a threat the citizens of the USA very existence of America? Yes.

Did the Bush Administration promote the idea that Saddam/Iraq posed a threat to the citizens of the USA? Yes.

Did Bush and his cohorts promote the idea that Saddam/Iraq posed a threat to the very existence of world peace? Yes.

Does the Bush Administration still promote such ideas, even after they have been proven to have, in my view, bankrupt policies? Yes.

Has the invasion of Iraq proven to be a terrible mistake? Yes, although an alarming number of American people do not understand the ramifications of this terrible mistake. That is, Americans, trust an American president, who has demonstrated an ability to kill, on a large scale, to achieve his goals and still believe that we had to eliminate Saddam because he was a nasty man.

But Osama has never been captured. He remains the symbol of terrorism, a symbol so invaluable to George W. Bush and his Administration.

George W. Bush is not about fighting terrorism. George W. Bush is not about protecting America. George W. Bush is about George W. Bush, who’s goal, while president, is to be in a position to use (and abuse) absolute power.

What domestically has happened due to the concentration of the Bush Administration's desire for more and more power, and the GOP’s concentration of absolute legislative power? The answer: A culture of corruption, built on the notion that the "ends justify the means."

This year may be our last chance to meaningfully begin to change, that is, to take the steps necessary to return to the workable notion that in the United States, power must be shared to be effective as our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Or has the Rubicon already been crossed?

Tune in next November.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Political Drawing



A super political commentary via a cartoonist on a Monday.

I do urge you to read Dave Amos' essay posted yesterday. It's a good read.

And, stay tuned for part two on Tuesday.

In Unity----

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Osama, Bush and the Thrust for Power

Part One of Two

Guest Blogger: Dave Amos, Arcadia, Calif.

Without 9-11 and Osama bin Laden, where would George W. Bush be? Back in Texas, that’s where. There is no question that without Osama bin Laden Bush would have clearly lost the 2004 presidential election to the lukewarm Sen. John Kerry, or for that matter, anyone the Democratic Party would have offered as their presidential candidate.

It is equally true that Osama needs a Bush type mentality in the American White House in order generate foolish responses by Islamic extremists. The majority of Arabs, and Muslims around the world, feel the United States and the western world are doing their best to oppress them. Bush’s invasion of Iraq confirmed that Osama bin Laden is right.

This effectively symbiotic relationship between Bush and Osama goes a long way to explain why Osama still runs free. It is not at all unreasonable, when one understands Bush’s and the GOP’s reliance on the continuing existence of Osama bin Laden, to suppose that Bush has no real intention of eliminating Osama – he needs him too much. In short, without Osama, Bush would no longer be in power.

Until 9-11, Bush’s approval rating was in the doldrums: well under 50%. He was a lackluster president who irritated the majority of American voters by betraying his pledge to be a “uniter” and making little attempt to form a consensus in the body politic and doggedly pushing a hard-line neo-conservative agenda that, in the main, most found offensive. With 9-11 Bush was able to promote himself as the “America’s Protector” (this, in spite of the fact that his Administration was totally asleep at the wheel when the 9-11 attack took place). Fear motivated many American voters to throw away their differences with the Bush Administration and accept the notion (carefully propagandized via the media) that Bush was a strong and decisive leader who would keep us safe from terrorists.

Bush (or, is it Karl Rove?) moved quickly and the tawdry Patriot Act was put before Congress for a vote (with little time allowed for congressmen and senators to actually read the bill, which few did) and any opposition to this blatant grabbing of executive power timidly shrank away due to fear of not being on the side of “Good Americans” in Bush’s self-declared “war on terror.” Very few brave souls (only the ones in very safe Congressional districts did) objected.

When it was seen how easy it was to bulldoze the opposition, Bush (again, was it Karl Rove?) continued to move at a record pace by gearing up for an “invasion” of Afghanistan when the Taliban leaders refused to deliver Osama – in keeping with medieval Pathan concepts of honor – whose concepts, one should assume, were well known to intelligence consultants in the Bush Administration.

Having no real way to counter American air power in concert with the power of the northern warlords, the Taliban quickly collapsed. With this, Bush had a “victory” to bolster his standing with the American people. Osama, however, somehow managed to get away.

In the meantime, using the excuse of 9-11 (and grossly misleading the American public) Bush advocated a war with Iraq. This is spite of the fact that the foreign policy and military experts, both Republican and Democratic alike, advised against such a folly, making the case that Iraq has never been a unified country and the suggested invasion would result in a vast quagmire of competing forces--Shi'a, Sunni, Kurds, and secularists--that do not share the same goals. Professional foreign policy observers saw a huge internal political sandpit and an anchor around the neck of the American military. How prescient they were.

But Bush insisted that the invasion was necessary to continue his (and, now our) war on terrorism, and the American people, for the most part, believed him. Osama, in the mean time, was still, and continues to be free.

Everything about American involvement in Iraq is a lie; a lie generated by George W. Bush and his policy advisors. The imagined existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was a lie. And most of all, the relationship of the invasion to the war on terror was a lie; a lie that is repeated even today, over and over again by the Bush Administration. They cannot abandon that lie, for to do so is to admit the utter ruthlessness of the Bush team as they strive for absolute power.

Part Two on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

The House of Representatives Democrats held a forum with legal experts on Friday regarding the recent domestic surveillance performed without Court approval by the Bush Administration. In an exchange with Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), one of the lions in the Democratic Party, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington Law School said:

"What the president ordered in this case was a crime. The federal law makes it clear that you cannot engage in this type of operation without committing a crime."
Read all about it here in the Baltimore Sun.

Moreover, Congressman Nadler asked if he, Turley, believed Bush’s actions met the "high crimes and misdemeanors" criteria mentioned in the Constitution. Turley said that he believed the Administration's actions were "high crimes and misdemeanors. "

Woo. It's going to be a "bumpy ride" the next few months.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Letter from the Front

The following is a personal email that was forwarded to our Team Blogger leader, Mr. Giacoppe, via one of his West Point grad friends. There are no last names for the sake of privacy. This email, sent to a good friend, speaks volumes about the current events in Iraq.

Yes, we Dems support our troops, but, in the main, not the idiotic war which may bring harm to them for no good reason.

Guest Bloger: Charlie B.

Dan:

I don't see progress on the big picture front, with the Judge quitting, no one venturing outside the wire without being in a column of armored vehicles sporting 25 mm cannons, not hiring Iraqis for jobs, bombs continuing to go off on the roads as though nothing has changed by the elections.

Down at the grass roots level, the whole deal is turning it over to the Iraqi Army and Police units as they come on line. I see things going on this front based on things that are going on within our KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root) realm, we being overlayed on all the facilities. Too early to talk about it - [because] I'd have to come back and kill ya.

Troops get a lot of support. A lot. Makes one wistful about it if one is a Vietnam Vet, as we all are.

What you can do to support the troops is through your vote and elected officials to hold the Administration's feet to the fire about the statements they have made - "When the Iraqi military and police can stand up, we will be coming home." We need to hold their feet to the fire about this without the weepy eyed bullshit that comes out of the mouths of misguided fools in the entertainment business. (The entertainment business - movies, tv, magazines, clubs and bars, stage shows, fiction writers, numerous congressmen and senators in elected positions, and, of course, news reporters.)

To the extent that George and DOD is still claiming Iraq is not militarily ready six months from now, you need to be getting way skeptical. The Iraq Army - or any other Army - is not going to operate at any where near our level. There is some idealism at play here that needs to be questioned.

You can also lobby against a psychopatic Department of Defense that encourages the constant flow of FNG Presidents to use the same sergeants and captains to go off to the combat zone every eighteen months, or less, because we don't have enough boots to do all these adventures.

Whew - Having said all that, and knowing that all one can do is take care of his little piece of the planet, I would say find a soldier serving here from within your universe - nephew, neice, kid next door, whatever - and send him e-mails, cards, DVD movies, and cigars with no expectation of an answer.

Charlie B.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Revising History. No way.

The following is a FORWARD (FW) that has been going around the internet and sent by “movement conservatives” (or possibly uninformed ditto heads) who seem to want to take the law into their own hands (international assassinations), do not mind the president is above the law, prefer a unitary presidency, and like to revisit and revise American history.

Note: I have added my own comments in brackets and in italics to demonstrably show how supercilious this attempt at revisionist history has been drafted.

The scene: In 1987, Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC, testifying at the Iran-Contra [constitutional and foreign policy scandal] hearings during the Reagan Administration: There was Ollie in front of God and country [the television cameras and under oath] getting the third degree [being asked probing, objective questions as the Senator was doing his job. It is an investigation after all.], but what he said was stunning. A senator was drilling him [asking a fair question]; "Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?" Ollie replied, "Yes, I did, Sir." The senator continued, "Isn't that just a little excessive?" "No, sir," said Ollie. "No? And why not?" the senator asked. "Because the lives of my family and I were threatened, sir." "Threatened? By whom?" the senator questioned. "By a terrorist, sir," Ollie answered. "Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?" "His name is Osama bin Laden, sir," Ollie replied.

“Why are you so afraid of this man?" the senator asked. "Because, sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of," Ollie answered. "And what do you recommend we do about him?" asked the senator. "Well, sir, if it was up to me, I would recommend that an assassin team [illegal since 1976] be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth."

The senator disagreed with this approach [as it was against American foreign policy].

By the way, that senator was Al Gore [a human being who cannot read tea leaves].
So what can we make of this dribble? How interesting that these conservatives hail North a hero? How wonderful that Ollie, an officer and a representative of the Regan Administration, after he took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, took deliberate steps to perform clear unconstitutional acts by by-passing the wishes of Congress stated in the Boland Amendment, and in addition sold arms to a country not friendly to the United States (Iran) and at that time a sworn enemy. Besides during the 1980s America was providing arms and military intelligence to Iraq. In the process North and his cohorts (Poindexter, Mc Farlane, Weinberger, Cassey), almost brought down the Reagan Administration. Intelligence operatives no wonder coined the term “blowback” for potential repercussions against the US due to a super-muscular American foreign policy.

In the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger, with Harrison Ford, the location might have been in Colombia, but the overarching theme was the Iran-Contra scandal and how presidential administrations can and often do break the law. Examples include: the Warren Harding Administration (Teapot Dome scandal), the Nixon Administration (Watergate), the Johnson Administration (Gulf of Tonking incident), the Reagan Administration (Iran Contra), George W. Bush (wiretapping without a Court warrant as dictated in the 1978 FISA statute, and the build up of war with lies and misrepresentations), and even the venerable Abe Lincoln (suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Courts, which was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court).

And as for assassinating nefarious characters in the world 14 years before a possible dastardly act is performed against the United States is also against the law, if not cheap Monday morning quarterbacking. Presidents since Ford have signed executive orders prohibiting international assassinations; in Ford’s case it was E. O. 11905. These EO’s were signed in order to curtail the excesses of the Cold War in South America and elsewhere in the world and the quite stunning acts of the CIA (Chile, El Salvador, Iran, and elsewhere).

Also, if Ollie had information about Osama, well he should since he was a part of the intelligence community within the Reagan White House and was privy to such information and it says little about Gore. As recent events during the build up of the US-Iraq War show as an example Senators have little intelligence information. This is because they do not have the CIA, the NSA, and others working for them. In addition, they obtain information via oversight committees and briefings from the executive branch. Gore, I assume, was against assassinations be used because it was against existing US policy. Since this exchange took place 14 years before 9/11 how can anyone who appreciates intellectual honesty take this FW seriously?

According to Section V, Part G of E. O. 11905: Prohibition of Assassination. No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.
Today, neo-cons and the Bush Administration want to reinstate assassinations and torture and repercussions will be felt here in the homeland and around the world.

See here: http:// www.heatherwokusch.com/columns/column45.html

Even Americans, in the main, know better. The so-called Christian extremist, Pat Robertson, got lambasted in every corner of the United States and in the media for advocating killing Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, to be sure an antagonist of the US. Talk about ignoring what Jesus Christ was said to have said in the Bible.

In short, this FORWARD being sent by Republicans only proves that Gore was stating American foreign policy at the time. It also proves that by looking at the whole Iran-Contra scandal in its entirety North acted as a nefarious character insofar he believes the president is above the law and can ignore the laws passed by Congress. We do not and should not have an imperial presidency. The Founding Fathers did not want that. Read the American constitution. Most of the powers in that document are given to Congress, the representatives of the people.

Is North a hero? Hardly. No way. Not to this American who believes in the separation-of powers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

His Terminating Days Are Gone

Guest Blogger: Larry Caballero, La Palma, Calif.

What a difference a year makes! Last January the governor was unbeatable. He could walk on water. He was an intimidating figure. Yes, the terminator governor had it all--except common sense and good advisors.

Now, we hear Arnold in his State of the State speech admitting that he had been foolish. He now understands, he says. The voters have spoken.

He's learned his lesson, and now understands that the people of California want "to cut the warfare, cool the rhetoric, find common ground, and fix the problems together."

Now he wants to do what is right for the people of California, which means he has to work with the state legislature. You remember them; they were the "girlie men" of last year--now they've become his newest best friends. And what about those bad special interest folks? You know, the teachers, nurses, policemen and firemen? Well, they're okay now, too.

Are we to believe that he has had an extreme makeover since the special elections of last month? Are we to forgive him for wasting the goodwill that we had once showered upon him when he won the recall? We'll see how seriously he believes his own words.

He now wants to do all things for all of us. In fact, he proposed in his State of the State Address to find the funding to provide all kinds of projects to improve the education of our children, the safety of our streets, improve the health care of our elderly, and insure that California remains the fifth economy in the world.

"I say, build it!" the governor shouted several times, but what does he want to build? Is it truly our infrastructure, or is it his stature in the state? All of that without raising any taxes! If I didn't know better, I would have thought that it was he who parted the Red Sea and not Moses, and it was he who fed the people with only a fish and a loaf of bread.

He now wants to be the Collectinator instead of the Terminator Governor. He thinks the federal government will come to our aid and help to fund the projects he mentioned. Well, where have the feds been since Arnold took over the reigns of power in California? Why does he think the federal government will come forward to help us now?

It's obvious that cutting taxes for the wealthy and funding a war based on lies have depleted the government's treasury. And California being a blue state in the last few elections won't make Bush or a Republican led Congress any more sympathetic to our needs.

The problem, of course, is that Arnold no longer has any credibility with the people. His true colors were out there for all to see leading up to the special election. Is he saying these things now because he realizes that he needs to be the people's governor instead of the governor of corporations and big business, or is he only thinking about his re-election in November?

Does he care about rebuilding California, or only rebuilding his own image? Is he thinking about the people, or his legacy as governor?

Only time will tell. If he's sincere, then in January 2007, Californians will be cheering him as a true advocate for the people. If he's not, then we will be sending him back home to Hollywood.

There, he can always get a role in a low budget film portraying a governor. As they say, once an actor, always an actor, even if the governor was never really a very good one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

VP Gore's Speech

Guest Blogger: Diane Ropp, Altadena, Calif.

The following is one of the best segments of Vice President Gore's speech yesterday.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

Monday, January 16, 2006

DeLay, Abramoff and Rohrabacher: Santa Claus, the Elf, and the Lackey

Bribers bribe
While tempting their fates
And fleecing our tribes
At outrageous rates
Still, Rohrabacher’s roaring
Defending the whoring
Of Abramoff and the Hammer
On their way to the slammer

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

He is a Republican exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas. His Chief Elf is a lobbyist who wears a number of hats. Abramoff, the Elf, gives money only to good boys and girls who are always Republican except for a RINO Libertarian like Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-46-Huntington Beach). The congressman’s recent defense of Abramoff is puzzling if not disturbing. Given that Dana has been paid some $17,000 by a crook for a screenplay that will never see the light of day while promising access to Bush, he may have experience with being naive. Dana ate regularly at the Elf’s Signatures restaurant (Chef’s hat) and has been linked with Jack Abramoff by acting as his reference for the SunCruz (casino) $60 million business deal (green eyeshade) in Florida that turned bloody with the murder of Konstantinos Boulis who happened to be an Abramoff rival (black homburg).

An interesting Rohrabacher quote appeared in the Washington Post as Dana referred to Jack Abramoff: "I think he's been dealt a bad hand and the worst, rawest deal I've ever seen in my life. Words like bribery are being used to describe things that happened every day in Washington and are not bribes." Just what do we call these payments, Dana?

Just what if Dana is not naïve and knows what Abramoff and Scanlon and DeLay have done? Is it possible that Dana is simply trying to put a little lipstick on this pig? Not lie, exactly, but dress up the Hammer as Santa Claus who simply has a host of elves to do his good works? Dana and Jack, incidentally, have known each other since the heady days when Dana was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan. Maybe Dana only saw Jack in the sunshine of a new love? Let us take a look at that possibility. Dana is one who actually took money directly from Jack. Incidentally, they were 100% Republican for those of you who have been distracted by the Republican comb-over claiming that everybody benefited.

While some Democrats did accept contributions from some of the same tribes that were bilked by Abramoff, only Republicans took money directly from Jack. Dana took $7500 and gave back $2000. I am not sure that the $2000 was returned to Jack or given to some charity, but it still appears to be related to the Republican fuzzy math and Dana had to know that Jack was tied to Scanlon as well as Tom DeLay. Then again, maybe there was some $5500 in services rendered and Dana did not have business lunches with Jack. Maybe Dana bussed the tables at Signatures.

My theory is that Dana and Tom and Jack himself know that the truth of power is that being guilty and even getting caught are merely technicalities on the way to ultimate vindication. Loyalty is the coin of the Bush realm and Bush is, indeed the man who would be king. How could anyone let Jack and Tom and Dana languish in Danbury Prison? We have the precedent of the Nixon pardon where he was not only pardoned for past crimes, but for future crimes as well. We have the precedent of the Colonel North release where Congress tainted the process of conviction. Republicans have control of the process and have control of the three branches of government. Pardon Me!

Of course we will hear that Abramoff, DeLay and Ney, etc. and the American people have suffered enough. They have earned Royal Pardons. Loyalty is worthy of sainthood in the Church of Greed. The trip to the slammer is a mere diversion on the way to sainthood much as Paul went to prison for his Church.

Rohrabacher is running against Jim Brandt for the 46th Congressional District. Jim was a Marine and he knows that Santa Claus is really the Marine who provides Toys for Tots and not Treachery for Tribes. Let us clean up our government one representative at a time. Jim knows that all Americans including Native Americans deserve open and honest government. We can do better than whisper the myth of Santa Claus with the reality of corruption screaming in our ears. Rohrabacher and his cronies are not so naïve as they are arrogant. They feel that they will be protected.

Before these criminals can say ”Pardon me, please,” let us vote them out of office.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Response to a Subversive Operative

Recently what, to me, seems a subversive political operative, has posted responses to Brother Lawrence DiStasi's observations. His moniker is Blade Runner and she (or he) earlier noted that the president's nominee to the Supreme Court "has to be" approved by the Senate because the president won the election. That comment is too silly to respond to other that to state that the Senate has the duty to advice AND consent. No consent, no confirmation, find another candidate, please.

But on to the matter at hand, Blade Runner writes:

You claim the President can only refuse to enforce or obey a congressional statute if the Supreme Court has made a ruling that it is unconstitutional. It's a legitimate position to take in an argument but it is not the law.

What Blade Runner fails to notice is that DiStasi’s argument is nuanced and measured. By reading his text, DiStasi never mentions that the president has to, in toto, observe every decision passed by Congress. He specifically argues about the Congressional law known as FISA passed in 1978 and what would happen if Alito became a Supreme Court Justice. The essay was, after all, about Alito and not Supreme Court jurisprudence per se.

Today, for example, if the Republican controlled Congress passed a law that ordered the president to place so many Quakers in relocation camps because they have protested against the US-Iraq war and so on and so on, Bush would have an obligation, if not a duty, to ignore such a law because it runs contrary to the many rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Every case is different, and some are quite clear even to the non-initiated.

In 1978 Congress passed FISA, a statute that echoed Fourth Amendment protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, albeit with a lot of leeway (the three-day ruling to obtain a warrant after the fact of a wiretap is an example).

Only a power hungry president can claim to the new and obscure "unitary executive theory" and claim that he (or she, in the future) is not beholding to Congress' laws in time of war or at any time.

That’s what worries not only DiStasi but a score of Republicans like Congressman Chris Shays, former Congressman Amo Houghton and Bob Barr, Senator Chuck Hagel, Senator John McCain and others.

Blade Runner also brings up the case Meyers v. US (1926):

The US Supreme Court addressed this issue in the 1926 case of Myers v. US. There Democrat President Wilson refused to comply with what he felt was an unconstitutional law (barring him from removing postmasters). The Supreme Court upheld his authority to refuse to enforce unconstitutional acts.
Of course this case in a 6-3 ruling has nothing in common with FISA. The Myers case involved the Tenure of Office Act (1867), later modified, and passed during Andrew Johnson’s term in office. In fact, President Johnson was impeached by the Congress for his action to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Johnson made it by the skin of his teeth. At first blush the Myers’s case made Wilson’s argument prudent. Yet the case was later modified in Humphrey’s Executor v. US (1935) where Justice Sutherland wrote that Congress COULD limit the president’s power of removal; the Court found that the Myers principle applied only to executive officers. Is a postmaster an executive officer? Is a postmaster "in any proper sense be characterized as an arm or an eye of the executive"? Not in my mind, so Wilson was wrong, in the long run.

Later, in the case Morrison v. Olson (1988) the Court upheld the Independent Counsel Act, again intruding on the executive. The executive is often wrong. Hello!

That’s why the imperial presidency is so worrisome even in times of war. Presidents should be prudent with the power they wield and purport to have and often do not. That’s why the Samuel Alito nomination is so worrisome for us combat Democrats. That’s what Lawrence DiStasi’s wrote about in his essay.

Moreover, in times of war, as Professor Buzan, the Constitutional Law scholar at Cal State Fullerton used to remind me, "In times of war, when the flag goes up, the Justices dive under the beach." In my mind, Alito would be the first to find a safe spot under that bench and agree with the president, just like the Court did in 1943 and upheld the placing of thousand of Japanese–American citizens in relocation camps. The team members of the Splinters Blog, in short, are civil libertarians.

Finally, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin philosophy in Walter Issacson’s book, "Compromise, may not make great heroes, but they make great democracies." The office of the presidency needs to compromise and work with the legislature instead of depending on Supreme Court Justices who agree with his politics and his ideology. The Alito nomination would bring in another ideologue and make him believe he is imperious with unfettered power, not as the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Finally , we don’t bemoan, we fight!

Read our bios. All of us are Democratic activists and we don’t hide by monikers.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Constitutional Crisis

A critical and perhaps unprecedented development took place in the course of the Samuel Alito hearings on Thursday, January 12th. During Senator Feingold’s questions about the power of the president to override statutes during wartime, Judge Alito reiterated more emphatically than ever his repeated implication that in the conflict between a statute enacted by Congress and the Constitution's Article 2 provisions giving the president Commander-in-Chief authority during wartime, the Constitution tends to trump the power of statutes. Alito typically puts this in terms of a hypothetical: like any citizen, the President is obliged, says Alito, to obey the law in this case any statute enacted by Congress except where the law might be unconstitutional.

What this means in real terms is that in the case of the FISA law which the President has in fact repeatedly violated by authorizing the NSA to wiretap U.S. citizens, the President was obliged to obey FISA UNLESS it turns out that the FISA law limiting the President’s right to wiretap is judged by the Supreme Court to be an unconstitutional abridgement of the President’s wartime powers. Since Samuel Alito will more than likely be sitting on the Supreme Court when such a case comes before it, it appears almost certain that the Court would render a judgment in favor of Presidential authority i.e. a President above the law.

An alternative prospect raised by Alito is that the case might not be "judiciable." This would mean that the Court could not render a judgment in such a case. It was this that evoked from Senator Feingold the remarkable statement that the country now appeared to be in a "constitutional crisis" which even the Supreme Court may not be able to resolve, and which he found "very troubling."

What’s really troubling is that the crisis Feingold referred to is already upon us. Especially if Samuel Alito is confirmed, and if he runs true to the form he has demonstrated in his hearings, the nation will find itself ruled by a chief executive who can disobey any law written by Congress simply by appealing to his war powers (the war on terror is, by definition, unending), ignoring the law and allowing the conflict to come to the Supreme Court. The Court, packed with the President’s men, can rule that the president’s power as outlined in Article 2 of the Constitution overrides the power of the Congress to make laws controlling that power.

This, in effect, leaves the Congress irrelevant. It shreds the most basic idea of a republic, the balance of powers, whereby each of the three branches acts as a check and balance against any one branch accumulating excessive power. Thus the constitutional crisis Senator Feingold was referring to, and which he found "very troubling."

In truth, the crisis is worse than Senator Feingold acknowledged. For in this situation, the Congress and particularly the Democratic minority in Congress have only a few choices. First, it can roll over and play dead, accepting the fact that it no longer has a decisive role to play in the affairs of the nation. We have already seen the current Congress doing this, a tactic that, in effect, has left the authority to rule in the hands of a dictator called the President.

If Democrats (and conscientious Republicans) in Congress choose not to abdicate in this way, they can take several actions to remedy the situation, and resolve the crisis. Each action will take uncommon courage.

(a) They can reject Samuel Alito, and any subsequent Supreme Court nominee who indicates a similar disposition to kowtow to unitary and unlimited presidential power. They can do this by filibustering the Alito nomination until the President is forced to withdraw it and nominate a more mainstream candidate.

(b) They can attempt to change the Constitution by amendment, altering the language in Article 2 in such a way as to make specific the prohibition against violating the civil rights of Americans at all times, including during wartime. This will eliminate the conflict between the existing Congressional statute (the FISA Act) and the Constitution.

(c) They can initiate actions designed to shut down the Congress itself, refusing to enact laws and budgets to continue the Iraq war and any other war until the President agrees to abide by the legal statutes limiting his powers, specifically the FISA statute.

(d) They can initiate impeachment proceedings designed to remove President Bush from office for high crimes and misdemeanors, in this case, knowingly and consciously violating a specific law the FISA Statue designed to make illegal the wiretapping actions he has publicly admitted to.

The role of an informed citizenry in all of the above remedies is critical. Waiting for the next election will not do here. Every concerned citizen must make plain through direct action letters, phone calls, emails, contributions to impeachment campaigns, participation in demonstrations calling for one or all of the above congressional remedies that he or she will not now, or ever, tolerate a Chief Executive or a government which holds itself unaccountable to and in contempt of the most fundamental laws and principles of this democracy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Richard Rodriguez




One of California's most talented essayists has to be Richard Rodriguez. In this article he explains some of the cultural and economic difficulties facing California.

He begins:
The traditional task of the writer in California has been to write about what it means to be human in a place advertised as paradise. Disappointment has always been the theme. The literature to come will begin with a different expectation.
Read all about it here here. It's long but worth it.

Web Watch

If you are interested in keeping up with the governors race here in California check out this excellent web site and bookmark it for future reference.

See here.

I love it. According to the January 9th post the Reps are loosing sight of the "prize." Ha!

And, here's a funny: I met Hugh Hewitt a few years back at the Yorba Linda Richard M. Nixon Library (cool location) and after a bit of chit-chat I told him he and I saw politics completely different. His response: he refused to have his picture taken with me. What a puppy.

Even the other Republicans who I was chatting with thought he was a loser due to his behavior towards me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ethnic Ties Are Not Enough

As an Italian American historian and writer, I have been the recipient, in recent days, of numerous appeals to join the rallying cry by large Italian American organizations in favor of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, whose forebears were Italian immigrants (there is some dispute about his father, originally Salvatore Alati, who in 1942 claimed New Jersey as his birthplace, but is now said to have come to America at 5 months of age, which would make him just barely an immigrant.)

I have resisted such appeals for the simple reason that a candidate's putative Italian-ness is not nearly enough to override an analysis of the man and his history, and an understanding of what such a history represents.

To begin with, though he may be a brilliant lawyer and capable judge, Samuel Alito is clearly an ideologue whose views on abortion, on presidential authority, and on the privilege of money and power over human rights promise a sharp right turn to a court which is already heavily weighted toward conservatism. He has said, for example, "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." It is for this reason that he is the darling of the religious right, which is literally salivating in anticipation of his providing the swing vote necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade.

But it is not Roe that I am primarily concerned about. Rather, Alito's ascension to the Supreme Court would put him in a position to add a critical vote to those who support virtually unlimited presidential power. At this unprecedented time, when the Bush Administration has revealed its arrogant assumption of the president's right to place himself above the law particularly in authorizing wiretapping on American citizens against both the Constitution and the express action of the Congress forbidding it a justice with Alito's views would be fatal to basic American notions of justice and liberty.

Instead of providing a balance to adjudicate between the power of the presidency and the power of the congress, Alito's prior decisions have shown a clear predilection to not only favor an imperial presidency, but at the same time to curtail the powers of Congress to make laws protecting average Americans. For when it comes to protecting the rights of "little people" as opposed to government officials or corporations, Alito has voted for a state requirement that women notify their husbands before an abortion, voted to strike down a congressionally authorized ban on machine guns, and voted to uphold a strip search of a 10-year-old girl and her mother not named in a search warrant. This is a judge who comes down consistently on the side of power and privilege and against the rights of those who have only the law to protect them.

Listening to Judge Alito in his hearings provides a sensory link to how the man and his opinions are of one piece. His voice has a kind of whine to it. It is the type of whine one associates with people who invariably, throughout life, curry favor with those in authority. The voice of those who, it is easy to imagine, if born in Italy, would have opted to join the priesthood and carefully nurture relationships with power to end up in the Roman Curia narrowly interpreting canon law against any innovation or human consideration. At Princeton, he was a member of CAP (Concerned Alumni of Princeton), an organization "concerned" about the number of women and minorities admitted in recent years. As a lawyer, he moved quickely to seek a government job, and obtained one as counsel in the Reagan White House partly on the basis of his CAP membership and his now-infamous opinion about Roe v. Wade. And as a judge, he has voted in favor, in almost every instance, of corporations and authorities in conflict with the powerless such as the farmers, who, when they were kicked off their farm, were subjected to what Michael Chertoff, now head of Homeland Security, and most others reviewing the case agreed were "Gestapo-like tactics."

Judge Alito, however, dissented, and opined that such tactics were legally defensible and justified. One wonders what the Judge really knows about those immigrant forebears he now claims to honor. One wonders what he would have thought of the authorities who rounded up hundreds and deported them in tyhe infamous Palmer Raids of the 1920s, or of FBI and INS agents who targeted thousands more because of their Italian birth in the 1940s when 600,000 of them were branded enemy aliens. Would he have been so diligent about defending each tiny element of legal authority then?

Perhaps. For it is characteristic of certain types of men that when they or theirs have been subject to discrimination and suspicion in the past, they respond by going over to the far side. Having been accused of disloyalty, they attempt to demonstrate a super-loyalty. Having felt the brutality of power, they attempt to align themselves in every instance on the side of that power, and those who, no matter how imperially or cruelly, administer that power.

This may be historically understandable, but it is no excuse. And so, though Judge Alito may be roughly suitable for the job he now holds on the Third Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court is a different matter. For that critical position, which requires both brains and a heart that is sensitive to the real world, he seems peculiarly unfit.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Institutions

As a political scientist I've been trained to watch institutions and watch them closely as often they have been infected by "goal displacement."

The once honorable United Farm Workers (UFW) is a recent and good example.

Read all about it in the Los Angels Times.

As my abuelita used to tell me, "Keep your ojos on the pelota."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Republicans in Troubled Waters

Finally, the Congress House Republicans are doing the right thing according to the Los Angeles Times as they collectively destroy Tom "Ratman" DeLay. Of course the move is politically motivated because the Republicans are seen as political rascals these days. And, rascals is a mild word considering what they have been up to. The Reps are "eating" one of their own because they know the days ahead will be troubling for their party and any elected Republican, especially in the non-safe districts.

Read all about it here.

As Democratic activist Bill Daly wrote in an earlier post this is an excellent time to pounce on Republicans due to their recent dastardly acts.

Yes, we need leadership and a unified voice both in Sacramento and Washington DC.

Let’s do it Democrats! We have to fight not only for our country but the future of our kids, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and good friends as well.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Snake Oil and More Snake Oil

The governator gave his highly touted State of the State speech last night. And after his phony apologetics, clearly designed to win back some of the millions of moderates who voted for him as California's savior and then rejected his special election which, incidentally, cost the state $60 million in funds it can ill afford we get not a modest proposal consistent with the state's reeling finances, but more grandiosity hiding beneath more snake oil.

This grade-B actor's grinning proposals for education and infrastructure upgrades didn't even pass the grade-B test, being an obvious ploy to curry favor with the electorate which abandoned him.

And how does this fraud, whose claim to fame was his promise to get the state out of its terrible financial mess, propose to pay for all this? With more bond measures! Billions and billions more. Like the good conservative he is, he brags, "We can do this with no new taxes." But bonds those are fine, he suggests, never reminding a duped and dazed electorate that bonds aren't free. They have to be paid back, with interest!

But of course, most of that won't come due until our savior is long gone. The pain won't affect him and the rest of the billionaires who rule us. No, the debt will impoverish only the average Californian whose children and grandchildren will be groaning under the weight of this sleight-of-hand unto their dotage.

Californians, wake up! The man is a lousy actor and a snake-oil salesman to boot. Urge your representatives to find some courage and demand that the governor come up with transparent ways such as legitimate taxes on excess wealth and real estate--to pay for his grandiose plans.

And then get him out of town.

The Governator Does it Again

Sacramento Bee columnist, Dan Walters, writes it very well again after the governator's State of the State address last night.

Walters wrote, "Arnold Schwarzenegger, exuding equal measures of hubris and naiveté, has repeatedly set up himself and his governorship for failure - promising more than he could deliver, reneging when promises collided with fiscal and political reality, overhyping his modest accomplishments, and confusing Californians by abruptly changing his rhetorical tone."

Read all about it here.

I guess Gov. Arnold wants to be the Governor Pat Brown of the 21st century since Governor Brown is credited with massive infrastructure spending during the early 1960s that helped make California one of strongest economic "tiger" machines in the world the last 40 years. Can he convince the citizens of California that more, if not creative progressive revenue streams (read: taxes), will be needed to accomplish many of his goals?

I doubt it. I just don't think he has the political stones to do that. He's a typical Republican. The governator is not the esteemed Governor Pat Brown.

The Los Angeles Times also has a good article here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dancing With the Stars

A moment of frivolity . . . hey why not?

I'll be following the ABC television show Dancing With the Stars the next few weeks. My fav, I trust, will be Tatum O'Neal, best remembered in the film Paper Moon.

Ariel Sharon, Statesman


Funny how some politicians can surprise you. Israel prime minister Ariel Sharon is such a politician as he became a statesman during his time as Israel's top excutive politician.

In an op-ed I wrote for Cal State Fullerton's Daily Titan this what I thought of Sharon in 2002: see here. Not good.

Still, he became a statesman with his unilateral disengagement plan. Sharon broke from Likud, the political party he helped organize, to carry out a plan which removed all permanent Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank.

Amazing.

To read Sharon's bio see here.

Another Regressive Tax

According to the Capitol Weekly, via the Los Angeles Times, the governator will introduce adding toll roads in California in his State of the State speech tonight. Oh great just what we need, another regressive tax.

Toll roads will be part of the governor's proposal to request voters to approve $25 billion in bonds over the next five years for state infrastructure needs. State Senate Leader Don Perata (D-Oakland) said, "The first of several rounds of borrowing proposals hammered out between lawmakers and the governor could appear before voters in June."

Read the LA Times story here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Letterman v. O'Reilly




I did not see the show, darn it, but I heard via CNN that David Letterman kicked some major booty when he had that idiot Bill O'Reilly on his show a few days ago. Maybe CBS is must see teevee.

WAY TO GO DAVID! I'm never watching Jay Leno again.

Getting Nasty

The undocumented immigration issue is getting quite nasty in Southern California, especially in the City of Costa Mesa.

Read the Los Angeles Times here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Assembly Speaker Fabian

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez is one of my heros these days and you can read all about it here.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Mission Impossible

Last week I read an excellent article in the Los Angeles Times that fully explains why the US-Iraq War has been such a terrible mistake. Of course I've been privy to the difficulties because in graduate school I read the seminal Clash of Civilizations by Harvard political science professor Samuel P. Huntington.

As Professor Huntington said, “[The] fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.”

Huntington adds, “The people of different civilizations have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights as responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences are a product of centuries.”

After absorbing Huntington’s thoughts I agree that to try to westernize an Islamic nation like Iraq is completely foolhardy. The stated goals will not work because there are forces in Iraq that are well beyond our control. The Iraqis are a part of a civilization that is very different than our western civilization; in terms of values, mores, religion, and such. In short, through the barrel of a gun we are trying to impose western values in a part of the world whose people want very little with what they, especially their religious elites, would term “infidel” values.

Besides Iraq should be three countries as the article points out and to try to bring a unified “nationalistic” identity will be unattainable. What a mission impossible the United States is on.

Read the Los Angeles Times article

Read about The Clash of Civilizations

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ouch, the Truth Hurts

Note: the following is a candid responce to the Splinters Team New Year's email.

A note from a Fighting Irish:

Guest Blogger: Bill Daly, Chair, 72nd Assembly District Comm.

Dear Lou:

Thank you for your upbeat attitude and encouraging words for next year.

Realistically, however, where are our Democratic leaders across the country in this heyday of Republican chaos, dilemma, and incriminations? If the situation were reversed Karl Rove and every Republican representative would be going for the Democratic jugular.

Frankly, in my opinion, our Democratic leaders are not leading as forcefully as they should.

What is holding them back?

Many a Republican figurehead like Ralph Reed is in political jeopardy. Is any Democrat pouncing on that son of a bitch in Georgia, especially after he crucified our Democratic war hero to gain office?

Can you tell me who is activating across the country?

The wave of political tide is in our favor; when are we going to start to ride it?

Where is our Democratic counterpart to John McCain?

Again, I appreciate your positive attitude, but I'd prefer to see a substantive base of support from our leaders to warrant it.

I'd rather wish you a Successful Year than a Happy one.

Critically yours,
Bill Daly