Thursday, July 27, 2006


Thanks to Damon for pulling this article off of the AP. This is the man leading our country and the "free world"? Leading it where, into Armageddon?:
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

ABA: Bush violating Constitution
Bar association president says signing statements erode democracy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar Association task force says in a report highly critical of the practice.

The ABA group, which includes a one-time FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, said the president has overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws.

The attachments, known as bill-signing statements, say Bush reserves a right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.

"This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries."

Some congressional leaders had questioned the practice. The task force's recommendations, being released Monday in Washington, will be presented to the 410,000-member group next month at its annual meeting in Hawaii.

ABA policymakers will decide whether to denounce the statements and encourage a legal fight over them.

The task force said the statements suggest the president will decline to enforce some laws. Bush has had more than 800 signing statement challenges, compared with about 600 signing statements combined for all other presidents, the group said.

Noel J. Francisco, a former Bush administration attorney who practices law in Washington, said the president is doing nothing unusual or inappropriate.

"Presidents have always issued signing statements," he said. "This administration believes that it should make clear ... when the Congress is getting close to the lines that our Constitution draws."

Francisco said the administration's input is part of the give and take between the branches of government. "I think it's good that the debate is taking place at a public level," he added.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said last month that "it's important for the president at least to express reservations about the constitutionality of certain provisions."

The ABA report said President Reagan was the first to use the statements as a strategic weapon, and that it was encouraged by then-administration lawyer Samuel Alito -- now the newest Supreme Court justice.

The task force included former prosecutor Neal Sonnett of Miami; former FBI Director William Sessions; Patricia Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; former Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards; and former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein; and law school professors and other lawyers.


At the top is the annotated text of an essay by Dennis Miller, comedian and conservative gadfly. At the bottom, after the dashes, is my response (Miller's comments were sent to me in an email as an example of the different schools of thought about the Mideast Crisis). Enjoy...

"A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service
to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need.

Here we go:

The Palestinians want their own country.
There's just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians.
It's a made up word.
Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years.
Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient
but is really a modern invention

Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war,
Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan,
and there were no "Palestinians."

As soon as the Jews took over and started growing
oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the "Palestinians,"
weeping for their deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation."

So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the word "Palestinian"
anymore to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy
at our deaths, until someone points out they're being taped.

Instead, let's call them what they are:
"Other Arabs Who Can't Accomplish Anything In Life
And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In
The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death."

I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN.
How about this, then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters."
Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country.
Oops, just one more thing. No, they don't.
They could've had their own country any time in the last thirty years,
especially two years ago at Camp David
but if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights
and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse,
you actually have to figure out some way to make a living.

That's no fun. No, they want what all the other
Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel.
They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course --
that's where the real fun is -- but mostly they want Israel.

Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or "The Zionist Entity"
as their textbooks call it --for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people
away from the fact that they're the blue-ribbon most illiterate,
poorest, and tribally backward on God's Earth, and if you've ever been around God's Earth . . . you know that's really saying something.

It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic
about the great history and culture of the Muslim Midleast.
Unless I'm missing something, the Arabs haven't given anything to the
world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that

Chew this around & spit it out: 500 million Arabs; 5 million Jews.
Think of all the Arab countries as a football field,
and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it.
And now these same folks swear that, if Israel gives them
half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals..

Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to
obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding.

My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the other day:
Just reverse the Numbers.
Imagine 500 million Jews and 5 million Arabs.
I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it.
Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades
and dynamite to themselves? Of course not.

Or marshaling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations
to drive a tiny Arab State into the sea? Nonsense.
Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents? Impossible.
Or spreading and believing horrible lies about the Arabs baking their
bread with the blood of children? Disgusting.

No, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace,
the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death.

Mr. Bush, God bless him, is walking a tightrope. I understand that,
with vital operations in Iraq and others, it's in our interest, as
Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible,
and, after all, that can't be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of
super models who've just had their drugs taken away.

However, in any big-picture strategy, there's always a danger
of losing moral weight. We've already lost some.
After September 11th, our president told us and the world he was going
to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them.
Beautiful. Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of
an Oklahoma City every week (and then every day), start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint.

If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day,
we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration
to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean
and east of the Jordan.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Re. Dennis Miller: he used to make me laugh, but now I can't stand the guy. Back when he was a liberal, he used to oversimplify things in his analysis of world events, but he still had a knack for telling really funny stories that used polysyllabic words to great effect and he still made me laugh most of the time (he performed at Northwestern my freshman year and I got to see him in person). After 9/11 he completely changed his politics and now he contradicts everything he ever said before. Maybe someone close to him was killed in the WTC. I get that. Maybe he's just appalled by those who try to understand why the terrorists would act the way they did. It's not irrelevant, trying to know the mind and heart of your enemies, but like everyone else, having watched those towers come down and realizing that close to 3,000 people lost their lives in a senseless attack, I can frankly understand why it wouldn't seem very important what was on the hearts and minds of cold blooded murderers.

All that being said, one of the few things I'm intolerant of is people who try to misinform others by portraying the Mideast conflict as a battle between "good" and "evil" or "right" and "wrong". There is no moral side to be on in the conflict and Miller's anti-Arab diatribe conveniently leaves out and distorts several facts that would provide perspective and balance to the analysis. To wit:

--The term Israeli is fairly recent too. There was no Israel until 1947, when the United Nations, feeling tremendous guilt over what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust, agreed to carve out a roughly triangular piece of land centered around Jerusalem--a holy city to THREE different faiths by the way, not just Jews--and give it to the Jews as place that they could call their own. A noble cause, given that Jews had been scattered around the world for generations and locked up in ghettos, except that to create this Jewish state, hundreds of thousands of Arabs who were living there were driven from their homes. As you can imagine, that really pissed them off.

--Miller says that the Arabs really wanted the land when Israel started growing "oranges as big as basketballs". Well, seeing as the Jews got the best land in that part of the Middle East (it has rivers from which aqueducts can be built, fresh water lakes and more precipitation than the Sinai peninsula to the SW or the deserts to the east), with a little culitvation and a lot of money it's not surprising they were able to grow oranges--and olives, all kinds of vegetables and plenty of other foodstuffs. Imagine if all the Black people in the United States were given their own state as compensation for slavery--and we were given California. You think other races in the other 49 states might be jealous? Yeah, there's earthquakes and heat waves but California is also the eighth largest economy in the world. You get the picture...

--Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Arabs are not the most illiterate, backwards people on Earth. That's just racist (if Arabs were a race--they're not. Like most Jews, they're all Caucasian, but that's a different topic.) It doesn't end with algebra...The Arabian Nights...Schezerade (sorry for the spelling). It's kind of hard to develop a nation state when a) no one will recognize your country officially, making it hard to trade with other nations and build your infrastructure and b) some nation called Israel keeps sending troops, tanks and missles into your territory to destroy "terrorists". Survival becomes a bigger priority than putting up a stoplight, I would think.

--Does Miller think there aren't militarized Jews who would gladly kill as many Palestinians as they could get their hands on? Has he seen MUNICH? The fact is, Jews don't have to kill in the same way as the Arab terrorists do because they have a nation-state with armed forces heavily subsudized by the United States that kill with precision and thoroughness under the guise of "defense". If you have no country and no formal army, the only way you have to stand up for yourself is to throw rocks. Or make yourself a human bomb. Or fire your AK-47, before you yourself get bombed by a Stinger missle.

--Does anyone else find it interesting that Israel is launching another major military incursion against Lebanon, a country with a Christian government and more than 50% Christian population? Huge sections of Lebanon are being destroyed to root out Hezbollah, and Hezbollah has supporters throughout Lebanon, but the majority of Lebanese people are being hurt even though they have nothing to do with Hezbollah. Also, is anyone else offended by the Jews calling themselves "the Chosen people"? It's always bothered me because I believe no one is favored--or cursed--by God. But do you think Israel governs and acts differently on the world stage and in the Middle East because it believes it's people are chosen by God? I do. And that's a problem.

Obviously, I've barely scratched the surface here, but Dennis Miller has become a conservative blowhard and an apologist for military overaction throughout the world. It's interesting, his opinions, the way Hitler's opinions were also pretty interesting, and ultimately, very dangerous. If the Jews and Arabs could share the same land and have respect for each other, then obviously there would be no problems, but two thousand plus years have taught us that this is impossible. I don't know what the solution is in the Middle East, but I know it's not to exclusively demonize either the Arabs or the Jews. Each side must take responsibility for its killing and own up to their prejudices and that's the only way any progress can ever be made.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


What Voting Rights Act?

So it seems that our esteemed Congress, led by Southern Republicans and those on the front line of the current immigration debate, are holding up extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (Read more about it in Yahoo! news or Mother Jones.) Republicans claim that some provisions of the Voting Rights Act are no longer necessary--such as supervision in nine states of polling procedures and the printing of bilingual ballots in areas with heavy non-English speaking populations. (You might have missed this, since the mainstream media certainly didn't cover it all that well, but one of the provisions of the new immigration bill passed by the Senate made English the official language of the United States. All well and good, except that now we can see the consequences of starts with printing ballots only in English and ends who-knows-where?)

Although one would like to think that even if the Voting Rights Act isn't extended voting rights will still be protected, all a person has to do is to look back at the 2000 elections to realize that we need all the protection we can get. If your skin is brown (or reddish) or you have ovaries it pays to remain ever vigilant. Every day, right-wing Republicans are starting to look more and more like the intolerant, bigoted, extreme religious fascists they claim to hate. I don't even have to squint anymore to see the similarities. My advice--write to your Congressperson to pressure them into extending the Act. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.