Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Buzzflash headline today:

Republicans Win Control of Congress: You Have One Day to Mourn, and then Two Years to Fight for Democracy!

Well put!
Now we must pray...

Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leader and advisors, and for all who exercise rightful authority. Teach them the insights of your teachings, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.

Creator of all flesh, bless the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry and safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are the pride and glory of our country.

May this land under Your Providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of Your Prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war anymore.

And let us say: Amen.

Now that the prayer is over we must gird ourselves to the task of retaking the White House from the Dauphin.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Stop them before they can confirm those nominees

A man travels across the country proclaiming that the United States Senate, a body currently controlled by the Democrats by a one vote margin, is politicizing the process by which men and women are confirmed to the federal bench. This man is George W. Bush, the judicially-appointed president of this country.

It is the height of irony that Bush is campaigning on this issue and then blasting his opposition for being political. His pitch is explicit: Vote Republican and I will be able to get my right-thinking judges approved by the Senate. He minces no words.

In an editorial in the New York Times we learn this startling fact:

The Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed 80 judges in its first 15 months in power -- more than the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed in its final 30 months of control, from 1999 to the summer of 2001.

This is an exceedingly serious matter. We all rolled our eyes when the GOP-controlled Senate refused to act on the nomination of an openly gay man who Bill Clinton had selected to be the Ambassador to Luxembourg. Shameful, yes; vital to the progress of our body politic, no.

The courts, however, are the most important of the three branches of government. This is a shocking statement, but true nevertheless. We have had, for most of the last 35 years divided government on one sense or another. Nixon, Ford, and Poppy Bush were face with legislatures that were majority Democrat in both houses for all their years in the White House. Reagan had a GOP Senate for part of his term, but the house was firmly Democrat from the day he entered office to his last.

Clinton had a Democratic Congress or two years, but was still stymied in his agenda, and Bush the Younger had but a scant few months before Jeffords began caucusing with the opposition, turning them into the majority. Jimmy Carter served a whole term with a same-party congress, but was unable to move with much due to the oil crisis, the Iran hostage crisis, and, most importantly, his outsider status. Having run against Washington he found working with the Capitol Hill insiders a daunting task; they didn’t like him, a feeling shared on both sides of the aisle.

Into this vacuum of power stepped the judiciary. The interventions by the Supreme and lesser courts began earlier, most notably by tearing down segregtionist laws, but also in criminal matters, women’s rights, and voting rights (Brown, Gideon & Miranda, Roe, and Baker v. Carr, respectvely).

Why did they do this? Because the Congress and the Executive did nothing. They abandoned the field to the only set of actors who were willing.

Politicians who take strong positions lose votes. Politicians who rant and rave against “the judges” do not. The political calculus favors candiates who abdicate their responsibility to govern and slam or praise, depending on the circumstances, the Supreme Court or the Federal Appeals Courts. This is a great system! The judges on the lower courts and the justices on the United States Supreme Court have two luxuries elected officials lack: lifetime tenure, and anonymity. Most Americans are unable to name any of the nine justices, and even less can name a “regular” federal jurist. Tocqueville wrote:

[The American judge] is invested with immense political power. How does this come about? If the sphere of his authority and his means of action are the same as those of other judges, whence does he derive a power which they do not possess? The cause of this difference lies in the simple fact that the Americans have acknowledged the right of judges to found their decisions on the Constitution rather than on the laws. In other words, they have permitted them not to apply such laws as may appear to them to be unconstitutional.

The president and the congress even roll over and play dead when the Supreme Court invalidates acts duly passed in the legislature and endorsed by the executive. This wasn’t much a problem for the first couple of centuries or so of our nation’s history because the men serving on the Supreme Court were very hesitant about usurping the powers of the Congress and the president, but recent years have seen the Renquist Mafia (the CJ, Nino, Clarence, Tony, and Sandi) on a spree of rampant law-overturning never before seen. I will not go into the Federalism debate here, but the punchline is that the Felonious Five is reducing the rights of the peoples of the United States the rights granted to them in the Consitution by strained readings of the so-called “original intent” of the framers.

George W. Bush--a man whose tiny mandate to govern is in inverse proportion to how large he thinks it is--is trying to tilt the federal bench rightward for generations to come. Since nearly all of our most important political question are eventualy settled in court, allowing Bush to appoint the judges who will decide these cases without check of a Democratic senate is a recipe for doom for the country.

To be continued...
According to this quiz the minor character on The Simpsons I most resemble is:

lesser-known Simpsons character are you?

Brought to you by the good folks at

Thanks to James at the Rittenhouse Review for letting us know about this

Sunday, November 03, 2002

ANTICLIMAX: Golisano staying in. [Link]

Saturday, November 02, 2002

According to WNYC-AM Tom Golisano (Ind.) has cancelled all of his campaign activities (except for his debate against H. Carl McCall (D), which took place this morning) between now and Sunday night. On Sunday night he will address the state in a paid commercial address on all of the local TV stations and CNN. The rumor is that he is withdrawing and endorsing the Democrat. With Dems having a registration advantage of 2 million+ this could, and I am only saying could, be a bad omen for George Pataki (R).

I've never understood Pataki's appeal. He was elected in 1994 in what we would now call the "Doug Forrestor Paradigm," i.e. I'm not that guy (in his case Mario Cuomo). He ran on two issues: Death Penalty and Taxes.

In eight years he has managed both to cut taxes and increase spending, primarily by issuing new debt. The debt load of New York State has more than doubled under his watch, and the state's bond raiting is in the toilet. New York state is facing a $10b budget shortfall, New York City, $6b. Good job, George!

No convicted murderer has been executed in New York, and the State Appeals court in Albany seems skeptical. I'm always asking people what they like about Pataki, and none has a firm answer. The man is a cipher.

UPDATE: Forgot to include the time that the Golisano announcemnt is to be broadcast. He will be taking to the airwaves at 6:28pm

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Just cleaning out my inbox when I came across this gem from Andy Borowitz.

[From the Borowitz Report]
Little Is Known About Saddam’s Heir-Apparent Son

Is the world ready for "Saddam: The Sequel"?

That is the question being quietly raised in State Department circles these days, where speculation is running rampant that a regime change in Iraq could mean the rise to power of the Iraqi strongman’s little-known son, Saddam W. Hussein.

While information is scant about the younger Saddam, who is known in Iraq simply as “W,” intelligence sources say that Saddam W. Hussein’s ascendancy has been gathering steam in recent years.

Having spent most of his thirties running a series of family-owned oil concerns, the younger Saddam got serious about his political future five years ago, when he ran for governor of a province in Southern Iraq.

Even though he lost the popular vote in that contest, the Supreme Court of Iraq later found in his favor, sending Saddam W. Hussein’s political star on the upswing.

At the State Department, fears now abound that if President Bush succeeds in ousting Saddam the Father, Saddam the Son could be hungry for payback.

“There’s a concern that he’ll be like, ‘this time it’s personal,’” said one State Department insider.

Within Iraq, Saddam W. Hussein is known for his sometimes difficult-to-parse speeches, which even his backers say are chock full of malapropisms and mispronunciations.

In a recent speech, for example, the younger Saddam said that U.N. weapons inspectors would be “accepted” in Iraq when he meant to say “assassinated.”

But State Department insiders warn that Saddam W. Hussein should not be written off just because of his less-than-golden tongue.

“It would be a big mistake to underestimate Saddam W. Hussein,” one insider said. “He’s not as dumb as he looks.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The always great Calvin Trillin scores a bullseye, actually many bullseyes, with this week's "Shouts & Murmurs" in the current issue of the New Yorker, entitled Unpublished Letters to the Ethicist. "The Ethicist" is a weekly column in the New York Times Magazine by Randy Cohen; Cohen answers letters sent in by readers which set forth various ethical dillemas.

Some of Trillin's fake letters follow:

My husband, who is an anti-abortion activist, sincerely believes that life begins at conception. Recently, he learned that he was conceived while his parents were on vacation in Jamaica, and he has come to the conclusion that he is therefore a Jamaican and is in this country illegally. He is now talking about turning himself in and having himself deported. Am I married to a man of principle or a cuckoo bird?

D.F., Tupelo, Miss.
- - - - - - - - -
I am an adviser to the President of a very powerful country. In order to divert attention from the economy, which happens to stink, I've advised him to talk about virtually nothing but war against Iraq between now and November, when our country is holding an important election. If the economy still stinks after a war with Iraq and I advise the President to talk about virtually nothing but war with North Korea until the next election, would I be "playing politics"?

K.R., Washington, D.C.

- - - - - - - - -

We are advisers to the President of a very powerful country, and we are prominent in a group of so-called hawks urging him to wage war on Iraq. Like every other member of the group, we evaded the war in Vietnam. Some people see an ethical problem in this; they refer to us as chicken hawks. But we figure that if we had gone to Vietnam we could have been killed, and then who would be here to urge the President to wage war on Iraq?

D.C., R.P., P.W.,Washington, D.C.


Friday, October 25, 2002

Senator Paul Wellstone 1944-2002

May the God of Peace grant you peace with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

A good name is better than perfume, and the day of death than the day of birth.

-Ecclesiastes 7:1