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Monday, August 29, 2005


I'm a Democrat and proud to be one, but this official history of the Democratic Party is a complete joke. The facts have been cherrypicked so much that it's laughable. They mention we retook the Senate in 2001 but fail to mention us losing it a year later. Apparently nothing happened between 1976 and 1992, according to the history.

This kind of political discourse gets us nowhere and diminishes our credibility. No further points, your honor.
Must Read Classic Onion Article: "Bush, 'Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over."

I'll be back with something more serious later this week.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Stop Complaining About Gas Prices. Please.

Lately it's become way too common to hear people whine about how high gas prices are. It's a conversation topic on the level of the weather -- it affects everyone but there really isn't much to say beyond that. Let me explain.

Gas is composed of rotting dead animals. We're running out of them and no new gas is being made. Hence, prices will continue to rise no matter how much you bitch about it.

Folks, prices will be $5 within 2 years so get used to it. As is, we aren't paying very much at all for gas compared to the rest of the world. The national average in Sweden is $5.66 per gallon; in the Netherlands its $6.56. Turkey pays $7.50 per gallon. The reason we pay so much less is because we hardly tax gas at all. This discourages people from taking public transportation and hence makes the environment worse. The benefit from our low tax strategy goes exclusively to the huge oil corporations who see profits rise when consumption rises. The common man in Sweden feels a hit when he pays twice as much for gas, but he also has free healthcare. Further, each of us individually benefits when society benefits. Society unquestionably benefits from fewer people burning fossil fuels and destroying the ozone layer.

High gas prices should make us realize that the price we are paying for gas really isn't the actual cost associated with using gas. The problem with gas prices is that no one is considering the social cost of using gas. The corporations don't need to -- they've passed that cost onto us. And far too often, normal people like you and I don't consider the social costs of using gas because we don't feel it as immediately and directly. High gas prices are the corporations' way of cashing out on the oil market while it still exists. They are getting ridiculously rich at our expense. Once the oil's gone, they'll all be dead anyways. But we can't expect anything less or more from soulless, unregulated corporations -- they will always do anything to help their bottom line. We need to be the agents of change. We need to stop driving gas guzzlers. One way to do this is to attach social stigmas to owning inefficient cars like SUVs. Ridicule your friends for destroying the environment. Mock their gas bill and compare it to yours. Joke about how their giant car portends a small something else. Another, more serious, way of saving money on gas is using less. Take public transportation to work and school. Don't drive 2 blocks; walk.

Of course, we all want to prevent the day where no one can drive because gas is $20 per gallon and the corporations give us no other options for energy. We need to conserve gas drastically while simultaneously developing a detailed action plan for weaning our dependence on it. President Gore likely would have made significant progress in this area; George Bush certainly hasn't.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The War on the Civil Justice System

George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley professor of Linguisitcs, speaks extensively about how progressives can fight the myth of "tort reform." Lakoff is the author of Don't Think of an Elephant!, a shorter version of a book he wrote titled "Moral Politics." Lakoff has a novel perspective on how the choice of language ultimately affects political debate. The crux of Lakoff's thesis is that Democrats do a terrible job of discussing the issues because we always discuss the issues within the frames set by Conservatives. Frames are the way in which we look at issues; these frames are shaped by our core moral values. So when a liberal tries to discuss why "tort reform" or "tax relief" is a bad idea, it's a lost cause. Those are terms with positive connotations that tug directly at conservative frames. The challenge, says Lakoff, is for liberals to use different frames that more accurately reflect the heart of the issue. Instead of speaking of "tax relief", we need to talk about tax cuts for the rich; instead of tort reform we need to frame the debate as a war over the continued validity of the civil justice system. Lakoff argues we should refer to trial lawyers as "public protection attorneys." The difficulty is in finding marketable terms.

Lakoff has other ideas that, to me, aren't as strong as his recongition that liberals argue based on conservative frames. Lakoff argues that liberals have a nuturing parent model of government. In our view, government should take care of our basic needs, support us and advance good. We care about the nuturing parent and the government because the lessons we have learned make us want to care. Conservatives, Lakoff argues, have a strict father model of government. In this model, conservatives favor order over the rationale behind the order. The strict father gives orders and rules the home . What he says goes and the family follows because that's the thing to do; reasons for his actions are irrelevant. I think both the strict father and nuturing parent models are interesting, but it is quite a leap to suggest that these models are behind the thoughts of EVERY conservative and liberal.

Still, George Lakoff is a crucial force on the left. We need to stop talking like Republicans and start emphasizing our core values instead. I urge you to check out the link at the top and read what Lakoff has to say.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

John Roberts: Racism and Sexism Could Get Their Own Seats on the Supreme Court

50,000 pages from John Roberts' time as a lawyer in the White House counsel office for Ronald Reagan have now been released. In my first post on Roberts, I explained that his words and actions showed he did not believe in the Constitutional right to privacy. In my second post, I examined the initial set of documents released by the Reagan library. I argued that his manipulation of the law to help corporate polluters, his references to an "abortion tragedy" and his comparison of Republican Congresswomen to Communists made him far too extreme for the Supreme Court. Today I will discuss the blatant racism and sexism that pervades the writings of John Roberts. These views alone provide the moral and legal bases for a filibuster.

I. Radical Racist

Two underreported remarks made by Roberts prove that he is a racist. The first is a comment he wrote for Reagan while anticipating an interview with a Spanish newspaper: "I think this audience would be pleased that we are trying to grant legal status to their illegal amigos." The term "amigo" is being used here as a racial epithet. He's not referring to any other Spanish words. He's not referring to anything that these groups call themselves. He is simply referring to a Mexican American group and inferring that they refer to undocumented immigrants as their "amigos." It may be hard for some to see the racism here; perhaps if Roberts referred to "granting legal status to their homies", the racism would be easier to spot. Regardless, a term like this has no place in a legal document fit for review by the President of the United States.

The second racist remark can be found scribbled in the margins of a proposed executive order banning some kinds of economic support for the white apartheid government of South Africa. Knight Ridder reports that "Roberts wrote "minority set-aside?" next to a passage that encouraged U.S. government agencies to pursue business with South African companies that had at least 50 percent black ownership."

The implications of this scribble are huge. First, Roberts apparently considers a program of encouragement to be a set-aside program. The word "encouraged" means that there will be no formal requirements and hence no set aside. Second, Roberts apparently considers minority set-asides to be a bad thing. I disagree, but then again that is the standard Republican stance which in and of itself is not radical. The third, and by far the most important, implication is that Roberts considered blacks to be minorities in South Africa. Perhaps he had no idea what the term "minority" meant, but even I knew in the 4th grade that blacks are the majority in South Africa. The program to which Roberts is objecting to merely encourages us not to do business with anti-capitalist racists and rather to do business with companies that more accurately reflect the South African population. This was a common sense approach adopted by the left and right; for Roberts to oppose it makes him an extreme radical of the first degree.

I've already discussed Roberts' limited view of the commerce clause which, in turn, provides the basis for his limited view of federal power. He just doesn't see the courts as an agent of equality. His selective reading of the Constitution rears its ugly head again regarding discrimination. Roberts persuaded the White House to cut a line referring to the "fundamental right to be free from discrimination." He said that "there of course is no such right." Discrimination is one of the clearest rights we all have which are not specifically listed in the Constitution. Society depends on a fair, equitable administration of government. To deny that is to deny our humanity. Roberts again stakes out the most radical position available.

I will now swiftly obliterate this modern conservative notion of Constitutional"originalism" or "constructionism". George W. Bush and the Federalist Society often speak of this theory as the "correct" way to read the Constitution. Their idea is that the only rights we have are what are listed in the Constitution, despite the fact that the 9th amendment says that the "enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". Since"originalists" want to keep things as they were at our nation's founding, it would be helpful to know what the founding fathers believed. Madison, the original Federalist, said that:

"It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against."

Madison is clearly discussing the potential for people like the Republicans to one day claim that the only rights we have are those listed in the Constitution. As Madison's words clearly indicate, the founders felt exactly the opposite; this fear nearly prevented a Bill of Rights from being written.

II. Scandalous Sexist

Roberts despises any attempt by the law to rectify inequalities based upon sex. Roberts called a statute "a staggeringly pernicious law codifying the anti-capitalist notion of `comparable worth.'" Comparable worth is a way of insuring that men and women receive comparable pay for comparable work. This is no mere policy goal; the law of the United States under The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandate that employers must pay men and women equally. The law in question that Roberts was railing against was a statute designed to ensure that government employees were being paid comparable wages for comparable work. Countless studies proved that female dominated occupations paid less than male dominated occupations even when the "comparable worth" of both occupations was identical. Comparable worth theory would require the government to study just how much "worth" each job has and then pay people according to that worth. Without using a comparative worth doctrine, the government just pays people "the going rate." If secretaries are mostly women, and women have been discriminated against over the years, then secretaries are going to get paid less than they deserve based upon that discrimination.

The right wing argues that it is impossible to determine the actual "worth" of a job. The free market, as they see it, is the only accurate way to determine a job's worth. Of course, this requires a leap of logic on the Republicans part -- that a free market for labor exists. The reality is that the labor market is hardly a "free market". Discrimination over decades has lowered the expectations of all women in regards to pay. Employers know that women exist in a separate labor market from men and can freely pay them less. One justification is that "It's the way it's always been." This creates a massive market inefficiency. Employers are harming themselves and their businesses by artificial discrimination. Most of them continue in the practice because of pressure of white male management, discrimination's role as an accepted business practice and fear of alarming investors.

Indeed, discrimination, not comparable worth, is an anti-capitalist notion because it undermines the market and creates inefficiency. Comparable worth is an attempt to correct the inefficiencies that result from sexism. In that way, it is an ultra-capitalist notion bent on restoring the free market and eliminating wasteful inefficiencies.

Roberts wrote documents supporting the Reagan administration's stance against the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA would have guaranteed women equal rights as men; such a mild piece of legislation shouldn't have been so impossible to attain. Roberts wrote that "Any amendment would ... override the prerogatives of the states and vest the federal judiciary with broader powers in this area, two of the central objections to the ERA."

Roberts wrote that many of the legislative initiatives to stop sex discrimination "are themselves highly objectionable." "Highly objectionable" is just another way of phrasing the old conservative propaganda line: reverse racism. The idea that men actually get hurt by a leveling of the playing field is ludicrous. In practice, change is incremental. Further, if we agree that discrimination benefits men, then that benefit is unjust enrichment. There is nothing "highly objectionable" with eliminating any kind of unjust enrichment. If Roberts believes that people should have access to more rights and privileges just because of their genitals, then he fundamentally misunderstands right and wrong.

In addition to inserting racist remarks into his legal work, Roberts also managed to work in some outright sexism as well. The AP reports: "An administration official nominated an aide who had been a teacher but then became a lawyer. Roberts signed off on the nomination, then wrote: 'Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide.'"

This reflects an outdated view of gender roles that places men in the workforce and women in the home. Roberts could have just attacked lawyers and not been sexist by substituting the word "teacher" for "homemaker". He didn't because his point was not to attack lawyers but to attack the feminist movement: to Roberts, women entering the workforce is bad for society. How can we expect this man to do anything for women's rights?

Roberts' racist and sexist remarks indicate that he thinks little of the American judicial system. He sees no problem inserting hateful remarks in documents produced by taxpayer funds. Roberts is insulting the integrity of our beautiful legal system by using it as a mouthpiece for ignorance and hate. There is no place for crass words on the Supreme Court.

III. Who is this man?

Since John Roberts is likely to play a huge role in human history, it's worth examining his personality. Judges are humans, not machines, and they need to keep in mind their humanity when they sit down to write an opinion. Roberts’ home was Long Beach, Indiana. Today the town is 98% white; it has been that way since Roberts’ childhood. As late as the 1940s, Long Beach banned home ownership to non-whites and Jews. Many homes had “white only” property covenants even during Roberts’ childhood.

Roberts attended an all-male, Catholic boarding school, La Lumiere, where the subjects of race and sex rarely came up. La Lumiere didn't even admit its' first black students until 1970; Roberts graduated in 1973. Roberts' graduating class was 93% white. Clearly John Roberts led a sheltered upbringing in a semi-racist town that must effect his views in some way. Insulated white people just have no idea what kinds of issues women and minorities must deal with.

In addition to a sheltered childhood, Roberts has been associated with questionable company as an adult.The Bush Administration has refused to release any memos that John Roberts wrote while working as deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush. And just who was Roberts' boss while working at the solicitor general's office? None other than Kenneth Starr. Your friends reveal a lot about who you are, so Starr's questionable commitment to the rule of law is worth noting. Starr's Whitewater investigation of President Clinton wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. Starr flagrantly disobeyed the law and exceeded the power granted to him as the Special Counsel. Starr's inquiry was to be limited to the Whitewater investigation. Feeling pressure from the vast right wing conspiracy, Kenneth Starr exploited his position as Special Counsel to delve into every single aspect of the Clintons' lives. Although the corporate media has buried this fact from most Americans, it cannot be forgotten that the Republicans used Whitewater, a phony real estate scandal, as an excuse to probe Bill Clinton's sex life. Starr is the epitome of an activist judge.

Finally, it's worth noting that hard right conservatives are downright giddy about Roberts. Yesterday I detailed Pat Robertson's insanity. Here's what Pat Robertson thinks about John Roberts: "This man is superbly qualified. He has personally litigated 39 cases before the Supreme Court. He is a distinguished jurist and one of the most highly-regarded judicial scholars in America. When you look at the life of this man and his measured approach to the law, his confirmation should be assured."

IV. What Will the Democrats do?

Relatively conservative California Senator Dianne Feinstein is talking tough about Roberts. As the only woman on the Senate Judiciary committee, she apparently realizes she has an obligation not to go down in history as the woman who sold out women’s rights. Feinstein said “I happen to feel that it would be very difficult for me to vote yes on a nominee I thought would overturn Roe vs. Wade.” Not quite “I won’t vote for someone who would overturn Roe”, but close enough.

Senator Boxer has been more clear than Feinstein in her opposition. She called a vote for Roberts “impossible” and that "[h]e's going to have to talk about the right to privacy…he can't say, 'Gee, I can't talk about it.' No." The idea that the right to privacy will come up at some point is a hopeful sign since this is a dealbreaker on the Roberts nomination.

Early signs point to a measured approach by the Democrats. Party leaders have indicated that they will attack Roberts' sexist and racist views rather than prod too far in "controversial" subjects like abortion. The idea is that Roe is not really threatened because the only votes against it on the current court are Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. This is a fundamental miscalculation. First, the right to choose must be vigorously protected because the American people are on our side. Second, the selection of Roberts will likely not be the final nomination that George W. Bush will make to the Supreme Court. Roe is threatened by any young anti-choice Justice.

Still, it’s entirely unclear if the Democrats are serious about contesting Roberts’ nomination. The wait and see approach of the party seems to indicate that they will not filibuster unless something new comes out during the confirmation hearings. On the other hand, it’s likely that some group of Democrat Senators, perhaps Boxer, will filibuster Roberts’ for his opposite to Roe. Getting the requisite 41 Democrats to uphold a filibuster is a far more difficult task.

This is a very easy decision for the Democrats and the fact that it is so hard for them to make is a bad sign for the party. The Democrats have the power to prevent Roberts from joining the court. In fact, it’s their only power to do anything to stop the Bush agenda. Recent polls show the American people are heavily against Bush at this point. The Democrats need to use the Roberts nomination as an opportunity to open the entire debate on the Bush Presidency. The Senators need to ask Roberts questions about issues of Presidential powers, his work for corporate polluters, the Iraq war and his own racist statements. Ultimately, the Democrats need to stop Roberts based on anti-choice views. Every recent poll indicates that the vast majority of Americans support the right to choose. This is a fundamental right which is far more important than the vast majority of bills that come to Congress every year. The American people care about this deeply and will punish the Democrats for protecting it.

The Democrats win on all these issues. We are right both morally and politically. The Supreme Court nomination hearings are just the kind of dry, factual, heavily politicized, non commercialized, political information opportunties that Americans rarely get anymore. It’s a perfect sounding board for the Democrats to take the offensive and call out the Bush Administration’s radical policies. Choosing a radical who will undermine the rights of women and minorities exemplifies Bush’s hubris. At 50 years old, Roberts presents the opportunity for the morally bankrupt policies of the Bush administration to continue on several decades into the future. We must fight this impending evil.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pat Robertson: The Face of the Republican Party

Televangelist Pat Robertson, former Republican Presidential candidate, has called for the United States to assassinate Socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The hypocrisy of a Christian minister calling for the murder of another human is plain. To do simply because you disagree with his politics is insanity. Of course, Pat Robertson quickly sounded rational when he spoke of more pressing Republican concerns: "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop." That's right folks. Venezuela is the fifth largest exporter of oil to the U.S. Couple that with a far left leader strongly critical of Bush and you've got a whole bunch of reasons why Robertson's wish may come true.

Pat Robertson is the founder of the Christian Coalition and a huge supporter of President Bush. Last January he said that "I think George Bush is going to win in a walk...I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way."

If you have the stomach for it, I highly recommend going right to the source and checking out Pat Robertson's website. The linked part of the site is titled "Operation Supreme Court Freedom". On his site Robertson asks people to
"Pray that additional vacancies occur within the Supreme Court." Without saying it outright, Robertson been calling for Americans to pray for a death of a Supreme Court Justice.

Meanwhile, Robertson's site also makes a none-too subtle reference that implies the Democratic Party is the party of Satan: "Pray that any plan of the enemy for the Senate confirmation hearing would be thwarted. Take authority over the schemes of Satan concerning the Supreme Court."

The Republicans and their corporate cronies are panicking about Chavez's discussion of ending oil exports to the US. Murder based on oil profits is unacceptable. Although conservatives charge that Chavez is starting a Latin American arms race, Chavez poses no threat to us. The reality is that Chavez is quickly spending his country into debt with overzealous social programs that he uses to stay popular. He's a harmless spendthrift who, most importantly, was democratically elected.

If a liberal leader called for the assassination of a foreign President, his career would be over. We shall see what happens with Pat Robertson, but I doubt much will come of it.

The People Disapprove.

We need to keep in mind that although things seem rough right now, there is hope for change. Despite the Republican domination of all three branches of government, the corporate media and big business, we do not live in a one party country. George W. Bush's approval rating has fallen to a horrific 36% according to a new American Research Group poll.

At this point in their second terms, Clinton was at 61% and Reagan was at 57%. Of course, both men won re-election by much more comfortable margins than Bush.

The trend, however, is to increase, not decrease, your support as you enter your second term. The thinking is that without the heat of an election, the President becomes more popular now that the daily opposition is gone. Bush has defied that trend and has far less support now than when he squeaked out a victory over John Kerry last November.

The larger issue of how Bush is serving a second term despite the lack of support both on election day and today remains a bit of a mystery. Did Bush's campaign of fear push swing voters to stick with the status quo? Or was there really something to the exit polls that indicated John Kerry winning the election? I'll reexamine the 2004 election at some point in the future. For today, we need to remember that we can win the war of ideas because the American people are on our side.

Tomorrow: The Case Against John Roberts, Part III

Friday, August 19, 2005

Happy Birthday President Clinton.

Today, William Jefferson Clinton turns 59. It is hard to believe that he was President just 5 years ago in light of how much has changed. We went from unprecedented peace and propserty to unending war and poverty. The government shrank during Clinton's Presidency just to explode in size under Bush. We went from an era where the Corporate Media wouldn't let the President get away with telling a lie about private sexual relations into an era where the Corporate Media won't even ask questions about the President's lies about the rationale for war. Clinton was pro-business, make no mistake, but he also understood the importance of keeping corporations honest. Clinton appointed honest officials to oversee federal agencies; Bush appoints members of industry to regulate themselves.

In short, it's been 5 years since we had a real President. Today President Clinton devotes his energy to one issue: helping stop the spread of HIV and AIDS across the world, particularly in Africa. Bush will probably work for war profiteers like the Carlyle Group when he retires -- just like his father does now.

President Clinton is an American hero who makes me believe that great people will be enough to save this country from the corporate interests attempting to destroy it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The War on Dissent

Cindy Sheehan has single-handedly reopened the debate on the war in Iraq that has been dormant since last year's election. Her son, a highly acclaimed and respected Marine, was killed in Iraq. Cindy is holding a vigil one mile away from George W. Bush's Texas farm. (I don't call it a "ranch" like the corporate media does because that phrasing is factually inaccurate. A ranch must have animals; Bush's farm does not have any. Focus groups probably told them that "ranch" sounded more masculine. Still, a lie is a lie.) Sheehan wants an audience with the President to ask questions about why her son died. Her first meeting with Bush involved him arriving in the room and coldly saying "So, who are we honoring here?". How sympathetic of our Christian President.

Part of the success of her vigil is that George Bush is in the midst of a 5 week Texan vacation, the longest Presidential vacation in 36 years. Bush has spent a full 20% of his Presidency kicking back in Texas and this week he will break Ronald Reagan's record for most vacation days ever taken during a Presidency. Keep in mind that Bush has 3 more years in which to pad his record breaking total. Also, let's not forget that Bush spent a lengthy Crawford vacation the month before 9/11. Apparently the phrase "burning the midnight oil" is not in Bush's vocabulary.

At first, Sheehan's story didn't affect me much. I feel great sympathy for Cindy Sheehan and agree with her stance on the war. Yet to me, it seemed like there was no chance Bush would meet with her and that this story didn't really have much beyond that. Another mother who must pay the costs of war that the Republicans have passed on to ordinary Americans. A tragedy, but not one any worse than countless other harms that the Corporatist Republicans have brought upon the world.

Suddenly, Cindy's story spread like wildfire. It struck a chord with the pent up concerns of Americans everywhere. The corporate media even picked it up since it provided easy fodder for them. They didn't have to do any investigating or out of the box thinking, all the corporate media had to do was show up at Bush's farm (which they were going to do anyways) and turn on their equipment. Sadly, the corporate media will only cover stories that cost them little to discover.

Soon the front page of every major website and newspaper was plastered with a fierce debate about the war. Cindy Sheehan, in a way, represents the ordinary, average American. Body counts and suffering abroad seem too foreign and distant to really affect the common man at home. Yet many of us have sons and daughters that we love and cherish. The thought of losing them to fight an unjust cause makes everyone uneasy.

Why did we go to war with Iraq? Why are we still there? Is staying the course really the best option at this point? Aren't we kidding ourselves to think that Bush, constantly wrong on Iraq -- they will greet us as liberators, they have WMD, the war will only last weeks -- can fix anything? All these questions began to finally get asked this week in the media and it put the Corporatist Republicans on the defensive.

That's when they revealed their true colors. Sometimes you don't really find out about a person until the proverbial shit hits the fan. The Republicans had the difficult task of arguing against a grieving mom who lost her son defending our country. All she's asking for is a chance to ask Bush the same questions that we are all have been asking ourselves.

The appropriate thing for the Republicans to do is to acknowledge the woman's suffering and then tie in the inevitable human costs to the more noble goals in Iraq. President Bush attempted this line of debate. He says he feels the pain of every grieving parent, and that Sheehan has the right to her opinions, but he stands by his policy. I consider that a fair, gentlemanly response. Of course, Bush then went on to make perhaps the most insensitive remark ever uttered :"I think it's also important for me to go on with my life."

Yet you can't look to Bush as the sole voice of the Republican Party. His underlings are doing his dirty work and it's pretty ugly indeed. The Republicans have launched a massive campaign of character assassination against Cindy Sheehan by attacking her motives, probing her personal life and outright slandering her. This too, isn't really about Cindy Sheehan: it's about squelching dissent and framing the storyline in the news. If news starts to waiver from the Republican party line, the vast right wing conspiracy suddenly emerges to mold the news back into what the Corporatists desire.

David Horowitz, a far right activist, called Sheehan "hateful". Conservative newspaper Human Events calls Sheehan a "professional griever." Rush Limbaugh has a message for Cindy Sheehan" "'Oh, she lost her son!' Yes, yes, yes, but (sigh) we all lose things." Ann Coulter has called her vigil a "Stalinist agitprop." The Right points to Cindy's divorce as a sign that her message is somehow undermined, but that is just a baseless character attack that says nothing about her message. . Meanwhile, the vast right wing conspiracy has launched a "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" campaign to attack the views of this grieving mother.

We have become a monstrous society when the human costs of war cannot be discussed. Even if one supports the war in Iraq, one must be ready to accept and acknowledge the fact that the lives of many Americans will be lost and many more lives will be drastically altered. Republicans believe that discussing the human costs of war somehow undermines the war effort and emboldens the enemy. That's nonsense. The "enemy" consists of people fighting an occupying force in their homeland. They don't know or care about what the American people think. All the enemy forces in Iraq care about is fighting us until we leave. I know personally that I would fight to my death if the United States were invaded by a foreign force. I wouldn't care what the reasons were for that country invading us and I wouldn't care if they hated us because of George Bush's misdeeds. In fact, I would likely join many other liberals in rallying around George Bush if we were invaded just as many people who otherwise opposed Sadaam rallied around him when he launched the war in Iraq.

My point is this: the beliefs of the American people have no effect on whether or not our enemy will keep fighting us. That is an old rightwing tactic used to squelch dissent. We must be able to discuss the costs of war so that we as a people can constantly evaluate whether we want to continue on the current course. The only real argument in favor of staying in Iraq, at this point, is that we've messed things up so bad that we can't leave. That argument, however, requires one to believe that the presence of the Bush Administration in Iraq is better than what would happen if we left. No evidence supports that widely assumed theory. It also requires you to believe that Bush will affirmatively work to make things better in Iraq. How he will accomplish that after blundering every step of the way is beyond me. The time has come to bid the Iraqis "adieu" and bring our troops home. Our presence isn't preventing a civil war; it's causing one to develop.

We need dissenters like Cindy Sheehan to force America to reconsider our goals and objectives. Without dissent, we become a totalitarian state doomed to collapse. Those of us outside the Republican Party need to speak loud and clear for the good of America. The Right would rather attack people personally instead of attacking the arguments themselves because they know can't win on the merits of the war. These disturbing trends of squelching dissent must be reversed. Censorship needs to become, in and of itself, a major issue of those on the left. Painting the Bush Administration as hateful towards the First Amendment needs to be a big part of our message. A war on dissent, and more widely on free speech, is raging whether we like it or not. The Corporatists need this war and are fighting it aggressively. We can't sit this one out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


***UPDATE: 38, 000 more papers of John Roberts will be released tomorrow. As such, expect to see a Part 3 in this series.***

Shocking new revelations have emerged that expose John Roberts as far more radical than previously thought. Thousands of documents just released by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library show Roberts’ far right views on abortion, illegal searches and women’s rights.
The nomination of a new Justice to the Supreme Court is perhaps the most powerful ability granted to the President. The effects of the selection of John Roberts to the Supreme Court will be felt far into the future, far after George W. Bush has passed on. With these ideas in mind, I've decided to examine Judge Roberts' record more carefully.

The case against John Roberts is now incredibly strong. Democrats must oppose this man at all costs.


My previous post on Roberts detailed his non-belief in the constitutional right to privacy. That alone, I argued, should be enough to warrant a filibuster by the Democrats. I gave an example of the corporate support for John Roberts and argued that his nomination served the Republicans' electoral interests -- hardening their right-wing base for future elections. However, I overlooked a portion of the problem with Roberts by implying that the only way he served corporate interests was by increasing the electoral powers of the Republican Party. That is true but misses the larger point: John Roberts will issue decisions from the bench that will vastly increase Corporate power at the expense of the people.

Roberts gave free legal advice to the National Mining Association. 2 years later he took their money and argued in favor of a horribly destructive way of mining coal. This practice sounds unbelievable, but it happens all the time -- to remove coal from the mountain, just cut off the top of the mountain, let all of the top fall down into the valley below, and mine like crazy. This obliterates the ecosystem of the mountain and valley region. Permanent devastation occurs so that coal companies can save a few bucks by not having to drill a mine. This is the ultimate example of corporations not considering the costs to society from their actions.

Of course, the fact that a powerful, rich Republican would support the coal industry at all costs should come as no surprise. It does reveal, however, that Roberts will be a very conservative jurist.

What's very troubling is that Roberts' views on the power of the commerce clause are very limited. The Federal government's power is very limited by the Constitution. The interstate commerce clause is the main way in which the Federal government can assert their power. We want the power of the Federal government to be limited for several reasons: the needs of each state vary, it gives the people more of a voice and it limits the power of the Executive and Congress to make far reaching decisions. On the other hand, we want the Federal government to have some power. Environmental protections is one of the main things the commerce clause justifies. Each state cannot adequately make environmental decisions because the environment extends far beyond the state's borders. Anything a state does regarding the environment necessarily effects the ecosystem at large, which obviously includes the other 49 states.

In his 2003 dissent in a case regarding the protection of a California toad, Roberts revealed his distaste for the commerce clause by claiming that the feds had no business "regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California." With that kind of slippery slope logic, very few species would even qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. While that might be good for business -- because greasing the pockets of state congressmen is a whole lot easier than reaching those in Congress and changing legislation -- it's certainly not good for America. The death of countless species will certainly occur if the radical view of Roberts is adopted by a majority of the Supreme Court.


The Washington Post conducted an analysis of John Roberts’ documents that were finally released by the Reagan Library on Monday. The details are disturbing. First, it’s clear he will work to eliminate a woman’s right to choose. “Bruce Fein, who worked closely with Roberts at the Justice Department, said that he did not know Roberts's personal feelings about abortion. ‘I know he thought Roe was totally ill-reasoned and extra-constitutional. Everyone in the department did -- we talked about it,’ he said.”

That says it right there. His personal views on abortion are only a small part of the issue. If he is against the crux of the Roe holding – that a constitutional right to privacy exists – then he is a radical extremist who will undermine our civil rights at any cost. His associate Bruce Fein frames the debate over Roberts’ views as whether or not he personally is for or against abortion. But when we are discussing a man in not the personal but the legal sense, we are talking about whether or not he would advocate maintaining the constitutional right to choose. It’s clear from his public comments and the words of his friends that he would overturn Roe if given the chance, regardless of his personal views on abortion. Indeed, Roberts co-authored a brief that said that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overturned.

But the newly released documents also prove that Roberts is personally anti-choice. He called a conservative “funeral” service for aborted fetuses "an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy." It’s his right to hold whatever view he wants, but it’s pretty clear that only someone who was anti-choice would speak of an “abortion tragedy”. To argue otherwise is comical.

The released documents reveal Roberts as a sexist. When 3 female Republican congresswomen wrote a letter to the White House urging Reagan to support a case granting women equal pay for comparable work, Roberts compared the conservative female lawmakers to Marxists. He believed that determining what equal pay meant would be equivalent to “central planning of the economy by judges.” That’s right folks, Roberts compared Republicans to Communists. That’s as far from mainstream as mainstream can be. This man isn’t fit for mayor of Springfield, let alone Supreme Court Justice.

Roberts doesn’t believe in the right against illegal search and seizure. He must have missed the Bill of Rights, but that’s pretty “mainstream” for a Republican these days. He believes the “exclusionary rule” should be abandoned. This rule prohibits the admission into court of evidence obtained via illegal searches. Losing this rule would lead to more aggressive policing and far more infringement upon our civil rights. More specifically, losing this rule would disproportionately hurt black males since black males are already disproportionately targeted by corrupt police.


Despite all of the revelations in the release of the Reagan Library documents, the types of documents which were not released may indicate their content. The White House has blocked the release of Roberts’ memo on the Bob Jones University case in which the school’s interracial dating policy played a large role. 20 of 27 pages of memos in a box of documents on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were also not released.

These documents were not released on purpose. The common thread is one of race. Both of these documents raise the possibility that Roberts has made racially insensitive remarks. The fact that a rich, Christian, white, Republican male could be racist is not unsurprising, but the Republicans know that racism charges could destroy Roberts as a nominee. From a moral standpoint, a racist has no place on the Supreme Court. From a legal standpoint, Roberts will have enormous power to roll back civil rights laws in this country and eliminate future attempts at progress.

The Bush Administration, through their Republican cronies running the Reagan library, spent weeks sorting through these documents. The documents held back were on “national security” grounds. Nixon used to claim national security reasons when he was holding back evidence of Watergate.

There are signs that the Republican Party may have committed a crime and destroyed public documents relating to Judge Roberts. The National Archives, an agency of top notch security, cannot locate a folder that it had regarding Roberts’ views on affirmative action. In an Orwellian fashion, the National Archives’ chief archivist now claims that he can “recreate” the folder’s contents. Perhaps this is legitimate, but what smells like rotten fish is that the last person to check out the files was a Bush administration official in July. If that happened at Blockbuster, they’d call me, and they don’t even have armed guards watching the library. Senators Leahy and Kennedy have called for an investigation of the missing files. Even though the investigation will likely amount to nothing, considering the one-party rule in Washington, it is a key first step to find the truth.


The smoking gun has emerged. John Roberts is a hard right conservative who presents the worst case scenario for reasonable Americans. The Democrats have a very easy decision to make. These new documents provide ample moral justification for using the filibuster to attempt to block Roberts from being elevated to the Supreme Court. The Democrats must be united in their opposition to Roberts. Progressives could very well lose faith in the party if the Democrats roll over and allow the Republicans to remake the Supreme Court as a theocratic, far right institution. The very future of our democracy is at stake and we need whatever bit of political power still remains with the people. There is hope that the Democrats agree with me. Senator Leahy, a conservative Democrat who is also a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary committee, called out Roberts as a "radical" who is an "eager, aggressive advocate" for the right wing of the Republican Party. The filibuster is the only sword we have in this battle in the war on corporate evil.

Friday, August 12, 2005


I am a proud Democrat, yet I also believe that corporate power is out of control and must be corralled. How do I reconcile these views?

The Democratic Party takes millions in donations from corporations every year. Most of the party's money came from corporate donors. Further, Democrats sign on to corporate welfare legislation year in and year out. As an entity standing alone, the Democrats appear at first glance to be Corporatists.

However, one cannot examine the Democratic party without considering the nature of our political system as well as the nature of the opposing party -- the Republicans.

First of all, Democrats support corporate interests but they do not support corporate interests above all other interests. The key area that reveals the wide differences between the parties is the issue of the environment. The Democratic Party acknowledges and accepts global warming as a scientific fact. Although they don't do nearly as much as one would like to do on this issue, the Democrats are against drilling for oil in Alaska and other environmentally dangerous measures that only benefit rich corporations. The environment is an issue of paramount importance; indeed it involves issues of life and death. The Corporatist Republicans are content to allow Earth to die before they will curb pollution. Indeed they denial the existence of global warming despite overwhelming scientific consensus.

When George Bush took office, he began weakening nearly every environmental regulation. The Orwellian-named "Clear Skies" program allowed corporations to dump more toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. Bush quickly overturned President Clinton's ban on arsenic in drinking water. And while Democrats pushed for tax-breaks and subsidies to promote the use of Hybrid cars, which would lessen our dependence on foreign oil and decrease smog, George Bush preferred to push for hydrogen fuel cell cars. Why? Because hydrogen fuel cell cars are a scientific myth, not a reality like Hybrids, and supporting a myth means that we get to keep burning oil like it will never end while simultaneously sounding like someone who cares about the environment.

Secondly, you need to look at the types of corporations supporting Democrats and Republicans. Republican corporate donors are mostly corporate "extraction" executives -- people in the fields of oil drilling, mining and factory farming. These are the absolute worst corporations in terms of the environment because they are unsustainable and environmentally destructive. Democrats, on the other hand, get most of their donations from telecommunications corporations and law firms. While taking money from telecommunications corporations is bad -- the media becomes more corporatized every day -- it's demonstrably better than taking money from oil companies. As for taking money from law firms, I don't have much of a problem with that. True, many of these law firms help support the corporate infrastructure, but at the same time these firms are really just providing additional costs to corporations that drag them down. The fact that so many corporate law firms donate to the Democrats while their clients donate to the Republicans just shows that Democrats are the party more friendly to lawyers. Corporations hate lawyers -- either they are getting sued by them or paying millions in bills to them. Further, lawyers are the reason for every single safety regulation we have today that protect consumers at the costs of pennies on the dollar. Corporations are deeply resentful of the check on their power that lawyers represent. For these reasons, the Democrats should not be ashamed for taking money from law firms.

The Republicans take money from some of the worst corporate offenders. Oil companies overwhelmingly favor the GOP. Shell Oil gave 84% of their donations to Republicans; ExxonMobil 95%; BP gave 62%. Walmart gives 72% of their donations to the Republicans. Giant chemical corporations favor the GOP. Proctor and Gamble gives 77% of their donations to the GOP. The large banking corporations give mostly to the GOP, and they were rewarded this year with a huge gift of corporate welfare known as the "bankruptcy bill". The big car companies all give to Republicans, probably because Republicans guarantee them that cheap, combustion engine cars aren't going anywhere. Ford gave 72% of their political donations to the GOP; GM gave 74%. Media giants like Clear Channel, who are turning our news into commercials for corporations, give overwhelmingly to the Republicans. Clear Channel gave 70% of their donations to the GOP. Meanwhile, many corporations giving to Democrats have a common thread -- upstart, "new" money corporations who don't have much of a stake in the laws that our government makes. Companies like Starbucks and Apple Computer donate entirely to the Democrats. Companies that are routinely praised by workers, like the excellent Costco, favor the Democrats by wide margins. In fact, Costco is a great example of an outstanding corporation who, while making nice profits, also treat their workers with dignity by allowing them great benefits and working wages. All of these statistics are available on BuyBlue.org, a great site to check who's giving what to who.

Third, you only need to look at the things that both parties have supported to see where there true loyalties lie. Despite the support of President Clinton, the Democratic Party was opposed to NAFTA. Republicans wanted to use the government surplus on tax cuts for the rich; Democrats wanted to solidify Social Security. Republicans want to privitize social security which would drastically reduce benefits while Democrats just want to keep Social Security as is. Republicans have prevented an increase in the minimum wage for 7 years; Democrats keep introducing bills to raise it every year and are shut down by the Republican majority.

Fourth, the nature of the American political system is such that only 2 parties exist. In fact, our system will never feature 3 parties at a time -- just like trying to fit 5 people in the back of your VW Bug, it just wasn't made for it. The reasons for this are complex, but I'll try and briefly sum it up. We have a "winner take all" electoral system. Even if 15% of the people vote for the Green party in every single election, they will never win a seat and have no representation. The only way to get any kind of say in government is to be able to win elections outright. Once 2 parties become entrenched, it becomes impossible for a third party to compete. They have no infrastructure or organization that can keep pace with the established parties. Of course, occasionally random districts will elect an independent to the House. But these instances are few and far between.

But let's assume we did have 3 parties, all of them winning elections across the United States so that the House was composed of 3 parties. What would happen? Without any one party commanding a majority, little lawmaking would occur. Alliances between parties would have to occur in order to get anything done. If the Greens just start voting with the Democrats all the time, Green voters are going to become disillusioned. If they battle the Democrats, then little lawmaking will occur and voters will perceive the third party as obstructionists and vote them out of office. We can have 3 parties for limited periods of time, and it has been so in our not so distant past, but ultimately we find a balance with 2 parties. It is the nature of our system.

A better system is a proportional representation system. In a PR system, if the Greens get 15% of the votes, then they get 15% of the seats. This allows virtually any party to compete at any time. Instead of needing to get 51% of the vote in a given district to gain any representation, all a party needs to do is get 1% of the vote. Congress becomes heavily fragmented in PR systems, however, but this leads to varying alliances between political parties. Often these alliances change depending on the issue. A PR system allows third parties to easily gain power and creates an environment where people can more easily choose a party who meets their interests. The drawback is that you vote for a party, not a person, in PR systems.

If we have just two political parties and you have to choose one side, the question becomes one of comparison: Which side am I going to take? Am I going to vote for the Republicans, the party who denies global warming, the constitutional right to privacy and evolution, the party who gave multiple tax cuts to rich corporations in the face of a recession, the party who called FDR a Communist for proposing social security? Or am I going to vote for the Democrats, the party who launched the war on poverty, the party who fights for the environment, the party who brought us the 40 hour workweek, the minimum wage and unions? It's not even close. You may not support 100% of what the Democrats do and you may not like the fact that they aren't doing enough to curb corporate power, but they are the only alternative to the dark, gloomy future of the Corporatist Republicans. The Democrats are our only chance to save the environment, ensure equal rights for all and end poverty.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


"Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom."

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003).

Although the Constitutional right to privacy may not seem like it has much, if anything, to do with the war on corporate evil, it does. Corporate power is not directly increased by the assault on the right to privacy. Yet the Corporatist Republican Party feels that it has much to gain by attacking the right to privacy. As we know by now, when the Corporatist Republicans are helped, so are the Corporations.

First, to do so riles up the hard right Religious core of their base. Most of these people are poor and have nothing to gain by voting Republican. The Corporatist Republicans, however, have convinced these people to join their side by becoming the leader in discriminating against gays. Many of these poor Corporatist Republicans dislike gays because they feel it threatens their religion; indeed many of these people may not care about gays one way or the other, but feel the need to discriminate against homosexuals because that is the message preached at their church. Some of these people are simply helpless bigots. I would suspect a high number of the anti-homosexual crusade are themselves closeted gay people who deal with their homosexuality by despising it.

Second, the Corporatist Republican party has an interest in ensuring that the rights of the people remain as limited as possible. The so-called "Constructionist" movement is really an attempt to prevent any social change from taking place through the law. I will detail the fallacy of "Constructionism" in a moment, but the reality is that the duty of courts is to interpret the law and fill in the inevitable gaps. The role of the judiciary is not as an "enforcer" of law -- that is for the executive branch. By cutting off the judiciary's ability to implement social change, the Corporatist Republicans will succeed in making the legislative and executive branches into the only way in which to implement change. Since those 2 branches are firmly under Corporatist Republican control (and they don't intend to ever give up that power -- I'll return to this in a future post), disarming the judiciary is a way to ensure that Corporatist Republicans make all the decisions in this country. Even though the judiciary is becoming more conservative with each passing day, the reality is that judges are far more independent and uncontrollable as compared to their Corporatist Republican counterparts in Congress and the Presidency.

With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the National Association of Manufactuers, the largest industrial trade association in the United States endorsed John Roberts for the Supreme Court. Never before had this organization endorsed a Supreme Court nominee, but in this new era of government by the Corporations, the endorsement isn't even news. The President of NAM, Republican John Engler who was once the Governor of Michigan, perfectly stated the oft-repeated lie constantly perpetuated by the Corporate Right as they attempt to redefine the role of the judiciary: "Roberts' record as a judge and attorney indicated he would interpret the law as written and not legislate from the bench." This is a radical mindset.

A. THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY (as told by the "mainstream")

Mainstream jurisprudence, as reflected in the quote by Justice Kennedy, is that not all of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are enumerated in the document. The Supreme Court first recognized the right to privacy in the Griswold case. Part of the Due Process clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments is that "liberty…cannot be deprived without due process of law." The concept of substantial due process emerged from the recognition that there are certain spheres of liberty that the government simply has no place in. The due process clause ensures liberties such as the right to privacy.

This makes intuitive sense to most thinking Americans. We all want and need the right to privacy within our homes. The Constitution implies that a right to privacy exists in several of the amendments to the Bill of Rights, but it is never enumerated. So-called "Constructionists" claim that if a right is not mentioned in the Constitution, then it is not protected by the Constitution. That only makes sense if you completely ignore the 9th amendment which clearly states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The right to privacy is clearly and obviously a right we all believe we hold, all want to hold and in fact do hold. The 9th amendment was written precisely to defeat arguments by future generations that certain rights didn't exist because they were left out of the Constitution.

Not only are most people in agreement, most Republicans are apparently in agreement as well that a right to privacy exists. 7 of 9 members of the Supreme Court were appointed by Republicans; the majority of those 7 believe in a right to privacy. That is where mainstream jurisprudence lies.


So where does Roberts lie? The Corporate Media as well as their Corporate Republican allies have mostly treated John Roberts as a "mainstream conservative." That phrase is being used everywhere you look on TV. Is it true? Not even close. Mainstream conservatives are people like Justice Kennedy -- who despite their want for small government and distrust of the welfare state, recognize that the Constitution gives us liberty, not specific, detailed rights. John Roberts, on the other hand, is a radical, hard right ideologue who prefers to ignore the liberty granted by the Constitution. Conservatives argue there is no proof that Roberts does not believe in the right to privacy. The proof is circumstantial, but then again so was the proof that O.J. was guilty. From a1981 brief authored by Roberts while working as Ronald Reagan's solicitor general:

"The mischief began 40 years ago in the case Griswold v. Connecticut, when the Court struck down a prohibition on contraceptives on the basis of a "right to marital privacy." The bit about "marital" was quickly dropped, and the new discovery became a general right to privacy.

. . . If Connecticut's contraceptive law was outdated and purposeless, the answer was simple: for voters to overturn it. Both the dissenters in the case, Justices Hugo Black and Potter Stewart noted that they opposed the Connecticut policy, but that didn't make it unconstitutional. . . . The Supreme Court won't return to its proper, limited role in American governance until it does the same with the mythical "right to privacy."

First, "bit about 'marital' was quickly dropped because the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment guarantees that married couples and single people should have the same rights. Roberts convieniently leaves that part out.

Second, he refers to the right to privacy as "mythical". Clearly, he does not believe it exists or he would not refer to it as "mythical". Now the Corporate Media doesn’t miss an opportunity to point out that lawyers write briefs for their clients, not themselves, and their personal opinions do not always match up with the work they produce for their employer. That's very true. However, John Roberts was not your average lawyer in 1981 and to treat him as such is ludicrous. First, he was working for a conservative Republican White House. They hired him because he shared their beliefs. His position as deputy solicitor general meant that he played a large role in choosing which cases to appeal. Second, a lawyer's personal opinions often shine through an otherwise objective piece. If Roberts believed in a right to privacy, he would never have referred to it as "mythical". Even if he was directed against his wishes to write a brief arguing against the constitutional right to privacy, he wouldn't use such inflammatory language unless he believed that way. Referring to the right as "mythical" didn't further his legal argument in any way. All it did was allow that personal opinion to shine through.

Further, only a lawyer would parse words and argue that even though Roberts called the right to privacy "mythical", that he somehow didn't believe it. The common man in America is not so stupid. It's facially obvious that Roberts considers the right to privacy "mythical" and as such he represents an extremist wing of the Republican party, not the "mainstream".

Roberts later took a position as ahigh-ranking Justice Department deputy under Bush 41. He again flexed his extremist muscles when he argued that protestors' blockades of abortion clinics were an exercise of free speech which did not discriminate against women. First, they obviously discriminated against women. Men aren't getting abortions so they weren't effected by these blockades. This is so obvious that I feel stupid even typing it, but apparently I must because Roberts somehow argued that it didn't. Second, abortion is a medical treatment. Would Roberts say that blockades of chemotherapy clinics were an exercise of free speech? No, and those blockades wouldn't even discriminate against women. Signing off on a legally dubious brief such as this shows that 1) he lacks the mental capacity required for the Supreme Court or 2) he is willing to twist and manipulate the law to fit his beliefs. Option 2 is the more likely one, but either option means that he has no place on the land's highest court.

The solution is simple. Each and every Democrat at Roberts' confirmation hearing must ask him as their first question: "Do you believe the Constitution guarantees a right to privacy?". If he refuses to answer, every Democrat should keep asking the same question. Further, unless he answers in the affirmative, any Democrat who would still vote for him would be selling out the American people and their party. The right to privacy is the constitutional justification for a woman's right to choose, but its' reach extends far beyond that one issue. If lost, it would signal the erosion of other rights as well as other privacy issues, such as contraceptives, that we take for granted.

John Roberts is an extremist, out of the mainstream, hard right conservative. Should he be appointed to the Supreme Court, he will join with Scalia and Thomas to form a new, powerful, hard-right block on the Court that will remake the law in their own radical image.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

1,841 dead American soldiers. 1, 702 of them died after President Bush declared "Mission Impossible". Some of them were parents who leave behind children like the charming little boy in the picture.

Lying to start a war is more than an impeachable offense. It is treason of the first degree. It is blatantly immoral.

Reported civilian deaths are between 23, 456 and 26,559, depending on whose statistics you use. The government could make this easy and count dead civilians, as they have done in past wars, but the Corporate Republican party found this practice useless to their narrow interests. Worse yet, these are only reported deaths. Obviously, many more civilians have actually died. A study performed late last year estimated that as many as 100,000 civilians were killed as the result of Bush's war.

Your Christian President is personally responsible for the death of at least 25,000 people. All this to acheive electoral success. Future generations will never understand how after Bush's treasonous lies, we returned him to the White House for another term.

Tomorrow: The Case against John Roberts.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The great Justice Stevens explains how the death penalty is making a mockery of our judicial system. I had to point out this article for three reasons.

One, Stevens points out how the death penalty is a tool of the powerful imposed upon the weak. Defendants who get the death penalty are often denied proper legal representation. He doesn't say it outright here, but we know that black Americans bear a disproportionate burden of being poor and being executed.

Two, Stevens shows how this barbaric process undermines our legal system by turning trials into a farce. People opposed to the death penalty can be excluded from juries based upon this fact; the result is that a defendant is no longer exposed to a jury of his "peers", but rather to a group of people that skews heavily rightward. Statements from victim's families have nothing to do with the legal issues of the case, yet the law allows them to be read in court. The result is that people's lives are literally being taken away based upon emotion, not the rule of law. Stevens also points out how elected trial judges may favor the death penalty so as to please a constituency eager for blood, regardless of whether or not the death penalty is warranted.

Third, we all need to remember this great man. Stevens is 85 years old and the most liberal member of the Supreme Court. Although he is in good health, it is not outside the realm of possibility that he will die before Bush's term expires. Should President Bush replace Stevens with a Scalia style conservative, the Supreme Court will become an enormously powerful tool of Corporate Republican wishes. We should all keep our fingers crossed and knock on wood that Stevens survives to see another Democratic president.
A buried story on out of control oil profits. Hmmm, wonder why our corporate media isn't interested in this juicy nugget?

In the second quarter of this year, Exxon Mobil had a 32 percent boost in profits. Royal Dutch Shell's profits were up 34 percent, British Petroleum was up 29 percent and ConocoPhillips saw its profits increase a staggering 51 percent.

These out of control profits show how much the oil companies can afford to lose. I explained last time why oil companies, like any corporation, don't pay the costs to society that result from their business. Many conservatives would tell me that they shouldn't have to by claiming that "If corporations are forced to pay the costs to society that result from corporate actions, then many corporations will go under. Your liberal plan is going to destroy America."

First, these record profits show that the oil companies can easily afford to give up some profits in exchange for some steps towards sustainability. Those figures above don't even consider the sheer amount of oil profits, just the increase in oil profits over the last quarter alone. Oil corporates are awash in cash due to unending demand, low costs and a Corporate Republican party that considers oil companies blameless for the ills that the burning of petroleum causes.

Second, perhaps the conservatives are right when they say that some corporations will be destroyed if they have to pay the costs to society that result from their corporate actions. We need to understand and accept that this isn't a bad thing. Certain activities just don't pass a cost-benefit analysis when we factor in the costs to society. Those plastic bags for vegetables at the supermarket are a great example. We all use them so much that most people could not fathom life without them. But the costs to society of increased landfills and wasted petroleum are far higher than any benefit from the use of these wasteful bags. After 30 minutes of use, the bag survives another 100,000 years.

Part of transforming America into a sustainable economy is accepting that certain parts of our lifestyle must be left behind. I'm not saying that Americans should live in huts and suffer endlessly; just that we need to be aware of the social costs of certain acts and be prepared to do away with wasteful activities.

Out of control oil profits show that oil corporations can easily afford to reimburse Americans for some of the costs that come from their destructive enterprise. In the long run, however, it's clear that oil consumption and production becomes an increasingly unsustainable one with each passing day. The time will come in the very near future where we will need to accept our addiction to oil and quit it cold turkey. There is no amount of money that can reimburse America for the destruction of the environment. The polar ice caps cannot be bought with cash.