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:




What
lesser-known Simpsons character are you?


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

Sunday, November 03, 2002

ANTICLIMAX: Golisano staying in. [Link]