Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Democratic Plans for Iraq

I know, the RNC talking point is that the Democrats don't have a plan, so these simply must not exist. Of course maybe they literally mean "a plan" singularly, as though any diversity in the Party is some sign of weakness. Just for the record I essentially lifted this from Kos who essentially lifted it from National Journal.
Bayh: find realistic way to define success, then set benchmarks

Edwards: was "wrong". Wants "significant" reduction of troops after elections early next year. He'd tie the proportion of troops withdrawn to benchmarks set for Iraqi soldier performance.

Biden: no withdrawals until political situation improves, but sees 100K troops back home by '07. Does not rule out more troops if necessary. Wants admin to come clean about targets for Iraqi troop training. More civillian staff in Iraq.

Clark: add civillian component; consider adding troops; adjust the mix on the ground; establish clear benchmarks for training

Clinton: No immed. withdrawal, no troop increase, set specific benchmarks for training Iraqi forces and make it clear to Iraq that the US's military committment is limited.

Feingold: 12/31/06 is a "target date" for troops to come home. But he's flexible.

Kerry: begin drawn down of 20K troops after elections in Dec and continue if successful.

Richardson: "It is now time for the military commanders to design a phased, definitive withdrawal plan."

Warner: No immed. withdrawal, no troop increase, set specific benchmarks for Iraqi forces. Eschews "debating the past."

To me, Richardson, Edwards, and Feingold make sense. Kerry almost makes sense but lacks a phase 2 of what's next. Here's my take on why Warner, Clark, Clinton, Biden, and Bayh are wrong.

They seem to assume that the situation is improving, and that we can measure that situation. As I see it we're now stuck in the middle of a civil war watching our troops die in the crossfire between the Jidists and the Islamists.

There is a school of thought relating to the War on Terror and now (after invading) in Iraq as well, that has been completely buried from the discussion. Neither liberals or conservatives seem willing to talk about the situation in this way.

Faisel Devji
argues in "Landscapes of Jihad" that the Jihad is noticeably different than the Islamic Fundamentalist movements. And I suspect that what we see right now is those two factions, the fundamentalists, and the jihadists locked in a civil war in Iraq.

The fundamentalists have an agenda, they seek the creation of Islamic Republics arround the globe. They were the force behind the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and are the primary force behind the Shiite parties in Iraq. The jihadists can be thought of has followers of Osama Bin Laden. While both movements are global, they are global in different ways.

The jihad is a globalized force far more than the fundamentalists, as they have a presence in nearly every country of the world.
The Jihad is global not because it controls people places and circumstances over vast differences..., but for precisely the opposite reason: because it is too weak to participate in such politics of control (1).

Thus, Al Qaeda has no ability to create Islamic Republics accross the globe, they have no such capabilities. This lack of power derives from the personal nature of jihad where it lacks any political motive, and is seen as an ethical responsibility.
Unlike fundamentalism, Jihad is not concerned with political parties, revolutions or the founding of ideological states. For someone like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who comes from a fundamentalist background in the Muslim Brotherhood, struggles in particular countries are important for two reasons: because, like the Taliban's Afghanistan, they provide a base for jihad more generally, as well as for rousing Muslims internationally. In other words the particular sites of these struggles are themselves unimportant, their territories being subordinated to a larger and even metaphysical struggle for which they have become merely instrumental. Indeed by moving between Bosnia and Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, the jihad displays its fundamental indifference to these territories rather than consolidating them into a single muslim geography. is not one country or another that is important, but instead Islam itself as a global entity (28).

Now, onward to Jihad's personal nature. The essential idea being that Jihad ignores collective responsibility. It is based arround personal piety; the idea being that Jihad is a personal religious obligation for each individual to partake in.
The Jihad today disputes and even mocks the privlege given to authority in this juridicial tradition. For instance in this passage from Yahyah bin Ali al-Ghamdi's article "The yeears of deception",j from the ninth issue of the Saudi on-line magazine Voice of Jihad that claims to be the mouthpiece of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Don’t you know that the clerics thave stated that Jihad becomes a personal duty if the enemy raids the land of the Muslims? According to those who disagree with this, a new formula should be put forth. That Jihad will become a personal duty when the enemy attacks the land of the Muslims-only if the enemy can be repelled and vanquished and only if the Muslim nation is completely prepared, and only if the ruler-and we don’t know who this ruler is-will permit it.
The author’s purpose is clear: to wrest the jihad away from the juridical language of the state and make it a strictly individual duty that is more ethical than polical in nature. […] One implication of treating holy war as an individual ethical obligation, like prayer, is that it becomes spiritualized and finally puts the jihad beyond the pragmatism of political life (34).

Devji goes on to argue that this jihad ends up being primarily carried out against other Muslims. This is what I suspect is going on in Iraq, and we are simply observers stuck in the middle. There is a civil war between the jihadists who seek martyrdom and the fundamentalists who seek an Islamic State. Our dream of a liberal Democracy in Iraq is unreasonable then, the fundamentalists will inevitably gain control of the country, while the jihadists will undoubtedly continue their attacks. Coming back to where I began this, we cannot remain in Iraq “until the job is done” because that job will never be done. There is no support for a liberal democracy in that country. Perhaps stability can be obtained in the form of a fundamentalist government like that of Iran. But any plan must focus on getting troops out as soon as we can. It needs to either accept civil war or work towards some measure of stability as we withdraw. In this regard Bayh and Biden are not looking at the reality in Iraq. Both liberals and conservatives are stuck in this cold war attitude towards the jihad, and nobody seems to even acknowledge Devji’s argument of the apolitical jihadists movement. I don’t know if Devji is right, but it is a perspective that is missing from the current discussion and is to our detriment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An End to Reasonable Discourse

There is no public discussion in the United States anymore. All debate ultimately results in name calling, we can't have an honest discussion of ideas anymore. I take you back to Jonah Goldberg's collumn in the Los Angeles Times two weeks ago. When it took him all of two sentences to declare that opponents of the war are "moonbats".
STOP ME IF YOU'VE heard this already. But there are people out there — honest, decent, sincere people and deranged moonbats, too — who think that George W. Bush lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. No, seriously, it's true. "Bush lied, people died" is one of their catchier slogans.

Now, I'm not one of these people, but let's assume they're right.

What if Bush did lie, big time? What, exactly, would that mean? If you listen to Bush's critics, serious and moonbat alike, the answer is obvious: He'd be a criminal warmonger, a failed president and — most certainly — impeachment fodder. Even Bush's defenders agree that if Bush lied, it would be a grave sin. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently accused Harry Reid & Co. of becoming "Clare Boothe Luce Democrats" for even suggesting that Bush would deceive the public. Luce, a Republican, had insisted that FDR "lied us into war." And this, the Journal editorialized, was a "slander" many paranoid Republicans took to their graves.

The question must be asked. Why did the LA Times print this without revision? What does the dismissal of opposing viewpoints as those of "deranged moonbats" do to create an honest open discussion of ideas? Obviously this should never have been printed in that form, but it was, and this has been discussed at great lengths by others with far greater readerships than I. I move now to today's Washington Post, which, in a defense of Wal Mart, feels compelled to call John Kerry a traitor.
Wal-Mart's critics allege that the retailer is bad for poor Americans. This claim is backward: As Jason Furman of New York University puts it, Wal-Mart is "a progressive success story." Furman advised John "Benedict Arnold" Kerry in the 2004 campaign and has never received any payment from Wal-Mart; he is no corporate apologist. But he points out that Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone boosts the welfare of American shoppers by at least $50 billion a year. The savings are possibly five times that much if you count all of Wal-Mart's products.

I ask again, why did the Post feel compelled to print this crap? What does the assertion that John Kerry is a traitor have to do with Wal Mart? Would the (bogus) case the article makes have been made any worse by removing the reference to Benedict Arnold? These send the painful signal that the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times will print anything on the conservative side. Would they print an article calling Republicans "wingnuts"? I hope not, but then again, I would hope that they wouldn't be printing this crap.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Blair May Face Parliamentary Inquiry

The British Parliament may soon committ to an investigation of Blair's use of pre-war intelligence, something our own Congress stubbornly refuses to do. Nice separation of powers here. The major criticism of parliamentary systems is that they don't have a strong separation of powers, the Prime Minister is also a member of parliament and is elected by the majority in parliament, but nonetheless they seem willing to investigate the actions of the executive unlike the partisons controlling Congress here.
This will not be a happy Thanksgiving for President George Bush, but he need just look across the Atlantic to know it could be worse. His only reliable ally, Britain's Tony Blair, now seems to be facing the full-scale parliamentary inquiry into the Iraq war -- its justification, conduct and aftermath -- that Bush has been able to avoid.

Leading opposition figures from the Conservative, Liberal-Democratic, Scottish National and Plaid Cymru (Welsh) parties have banded together to back the cross-party motion titled "Conduct of Government policy in relation to the war against Iraq" to demand that the case for an inquiry be debated in the House of Commons. They seem assured of the 200 signatures required to get such a debate -- and then the loyalty of Blair's dismayed and disillusioned Labor members of Parliament will be sorely tested.

"This apparently modest motion may be the iceberg toward which Blair's Titanic is sailing," said Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.

Labor Party rebels have already inflicted one unprecedented defeat on Blair in this parliamentary session, and on the issue of Iraq, he commands little confidence. One leading Labor rebel, Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham, has already signed on to the motion.

It reads: "This House believes there should be a select committee of seven Members, being Members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto in the period leading up to military action in that country in March, 2003 and in its aftermath."

There's an interesting piece of information in this article that has been completely ignored by the gutless American press. This is certainly the first I've heard of this.
It also comes amid a hoist of other embarrassments for the government, including a bizarrely ham-handed attempt to use the Official Secrets Act to squash press reporting of a leaked five-page memo, stamped Top Secret. It records a conversation last year between Bush and Blair in which the British prime minister supposedly dissuaded the American president from bombing Al Jazeera TV in Qatar. The White House has dismissed the suggestion as "outlandish" after the report first appeared in the Daily Mirror, but the decision to invoke the Official Secrets Act has given the tale new prominence.

If true, this is quite a story, not liking the way Al Jazeera reports is one thing, but the suggestion of bombing them is outlandish. If Bush did indeed suggest this it only shows the extreme lengths Bush will go to silence dissent. If Bush can bomb Al Jazeera, I demand that FOX News be bombed as well, as I understand it the two stations are really nothing more than opposite sides of the same coin.

Duke Cunningham Resigns

One corrupt Republican down!
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican, resigned on Monday after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for help in securing Defense Department contracts.

Cunningham, 63, an eight-term congressman and decorated Vietnam War veteran, had been under federal investigation for his ties to Washington-based defense contractor MZM Inc. since the summer.

"I am resigning from the House of Representatives because I've compromised the trust of my constituents," Cunningham said after the court hearing.

He entered guilty pleas in San Diego federal court on Monday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion. The last charge stemmed from the underreporting of his income in 2004.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Padilla Indicted

It only took them three years. Now that's a "speedy trial" if I've ever heard of one. Someone must have finally hit them over the head and made them realize that the Supreme Court was going to overturn the policy. It's worth noting here what they did not charge him with. Conspiring to set off a dirty bomb, they've fallen back on their favorite weak charge "providing material support to terrorists."
Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber" who has been at the center of fierce legal and political struggles for more than three years, has been indicted on charges that he conspired to murder individuals overseas and provide support for terrorists, according to federal court documents unsealed yesterday.

The indictment abruptly moves Padilla's case out of the shadows of his confinement in a U.S. Navy brig in South Carolina, where the Brooklyn-born former gang member has been held since President Bush declared him an enemy combatant in 2002. The indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury in Miami last week, names four other defendants.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

In the House Today

Jean Schmidt (OH-2) had one minute to address the body about the Iraq war today, and how did she choose to use her one minute? To question the patriotism of Rep. Murtha (a decorated marine in Vietnam), for calling for a pullout from Iraq. Yes, that's what patriotism is all about, not questioning the President in war.
Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.

Jean Schmidt sure loves to pull the swift boat stunt on veterans, I seem to recall her pulling similar tactics against Mr. Hackett in August.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Real Numbers

Ok, I'm supposed to being doing something else, so I'll be brief. Everyone is using the wrong numbers for health care. We all know the number without health insurance in the United States is at 46 million people, but here's what you don't hear. 38 million are on MedicAid, and 41 million are on MediCare. That means that 125 million Americans are either without health insurance or on government assistance for health care. That's over 1/2 of the population folks.

SOURCES (sorry, I used Lexis-Nexis, no links)
The Washington Post

October 10, 2005 Monday
Correction Appended
Final Edition

HEADLINE: Medicare Drug Benefit Outlined in Campaign;
As Enrollment Is Set to Begin, Ads and Other Outreach Seek to Educate Eligible Citizens

BYLINE: Christopher Lee, Washington Post Staff Writer

Copyright 2005 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)

August 31, 2005 Wednesday
Final Edition

HEADLINE: 1 in 7 lack health insurance in U.S., census survey finds;
Number rises for 4th year in row

BYLINE: GUY BOULTON, Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Whole New Level

If true, the revelations about Hadley is disturbing on a whole new level. So the job of the National Security Council is now to serve as another political arm of the White House to be used for smearing opponents of the Administration? The National Security Council is supposed to exist for advising the President on foreign policy matters, but it now seems as though its real function is to smear opponents of the Administration. This is very troubling.

This Gets More Interesting All the Time

Steven Hadley was the original leaker? This is obviously far from over as the plot thickens.
Testifying under oath Monday to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Woodward recounted a casual conversation he had with Hadley, these sources say. Hadley did not return a call seeking comment.

Woodward said he was told that it was “no big deal” that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate the veracity of the Bush Administration’s claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. According to the attorneys, he said Hadley dismissed the trip by saying his wife, a CIA officer who worked on WMD issues, had recommended him.

At the time, Hadley was working under then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

“We think that Mr. Woodward was going to write a story about it, but discussed it with some other people within the Bush Administration and was told that it wasn’t anything big,” one attorney told RAW STORY.

Woodward did not return a call for this article. He did not identify his source in an article in today’s Washington Post, instead dubbing him a “senior administration official.”

Perhaps it's time to ask the question, "was anyone in this Administration not involved in the leak?

Something is Rotten at CPB

The New York Times today has confirmed what we already knew.
The former chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who was ousted from the board two weeks ago when it was presented with the details of the report in a closed session, has said he sought to enforce a provision of the broadcasting act meant to ensure objectivity and balance in programming.

But in the process, the report said, Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly crossed statutory boundaries that had set up the corporation as a "heat shield" to protect public radio and television from political interference.
The inspector general's report is the first official conclusion that Mr. Tomlinson appears to have violated both the law and the corporation's own rules. It is also the first detailed and official inside look at the dynamics of the corporation as some of its career staff members have struggled with conservative Republican appointees seeking to change its direction.

The report said investigators found evidence that Mr. Tomlinson had violated federal law by being heavily involved in getting more than $4 million for a program featuring writers of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

It said he had imposed a "political test" to recruit a new president of the corporation. And it said his decision to hire Republican consultants to defeat legislation violated contracting rules.
The investigators found evidence that "political tests" were a major criterion used by Mr. Tomlinson in recruiting the corporation's new president, Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and a former senior State Department official.

According to the report, Ms. Harrison was given the job after being promoted for it by an unidentified White House official. Investigators said they had found e-mail correspondence between Mr. Tomlinson and the White House that while "cryptic" in nature "gives the appearance that the former chairman was strongly motivated by political considerations in filling the president/C.E.O. position."

A nice blow to Administration efforts to make Public Broadcasting more "objective." Demonstrates quite well what the real goal of the "objectivity" crusade was.

Monday, November 14, 2005

How Libby Matters

I've been tired and the news hasn't been exciting enough to make me write here, but this I found interesting.
Fitzgerald has reinterviewed several witnesses with knowledge of Rove's role in the Plame leak and talked with attorneys of other potential witnesses.

The ongoing investigation means that Rove's legal status is likely to remain up in the air until the final disposition of Libby's case. That could be two years from now, or even longer. Rove's predicament contradicts recent news accounts indicating that Fitzgerald will conclude his probe of Rove in the near future.

While the right spins the Libby indictment as a technicality, it clearly is not. Libby's stonewalling of the investigation has prevented Fitzgerald from being able to make reasonable time in concluding his investigation and he may not have the information he needs until the last days of the Bush Administration or even after they have left office.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

On Religion and Politics

MyDD has a particularly good election post-mortem. In particular I would like to focus on the discussion of religion in the Virginia race.
Guest-posting at Political Animal, Amy Sullivan writes that part of Tim Kaine's win in Virginia was that he was able to neutralize what has been a Republican advantage on the faith, values, and character issues related to religion. Kaine didn't pander to the religious right (he is a Catholic, after all), but he did hold up his faith as a defense when Kilgore attacked him for being personally anti-death penalty.

Kaine always made it clear that his religious views don't have an undue influence on his political decisions, though. This indicates to me that voters, even in a red state like Virginia, like politicians with religion, but don't buy into the idea that religion should dictate politics. By knocking the religion advantage out of the Republican playbook, Kaine "got to compete on actual issues--whether immigration or education or sprawl or health care." As she writes, "that's good news for Democrats."

Democrats have been saying for ages on issues such as abortion "I don't have a right to force my religion on everybody else." And Kaine used it here, but it seems the context is different. Kaine derives from his mainstream religious views that the death penalty should be abolished, a clearly unpopular position. Democrats typically have taken the same interpretation of scripture as Republicans and said that the difference between them and the Republican is that they don't feel like they should force their religion upon others. But the initial agreement in religious interpretation may tell voters that Democrats are unwilling to defend their values. Whereas Kaine by taking a position not held by most people on religious grounds that a large portion of people disagree with changed the perspective on the "I can't legislate my religious beliefs for others" argument. People begin to think about the issue as "thank god, I don't want the death penalty abolished" instead of "well, why not? We need to prevent these abortions." So in the Virginia Governor's race Kaine was able to reframe the perspective on legislating religion so that most voters were finally capable of understanding the necessity of that viewpoint.

DeLay Trial Nonsense

I initially dismissed Delay's motions to remove the judge in his case because the judge happened to be a Democrat as DeLay bringing politics into the Courtroom to try to bully the legal system like he bullies legislators. Ronnie Earle, the prosecutor in the case proceeded to ask that the new judge be removed for being a Republican, it seemed as though this would go on forever until they found a judge who was seemingly unconnected with all parties. The initial assessment of the situation still holds true. But I now realize the issue runs deeper than that. At the heart of this political posturing and manipulation of the legal system is a broken legal system in Texas, you see, it turns out Texas elects judges by partison ballot.
The complaints against the Texas judicial system have a long history. In 1987, "60 Minutes," in a program called "Justice for Sale," showed Texas Supreme Court justices taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from lawyers appearing before them. Eleven years later, "60 Minutes" found that little had changed.

In 1998, Texas for Public Justice issued its own report, finding that the seven Texas Supreme Court justices elected since 1994 had raised $9.2 million, of which 40 percent came from interests with cases before the court. A survey taken for the court itself, the group said, found that nearly half of the judges themselves thought that campaign contributions significantly affected their decisions.

Good God! The judges are completely bought and payed for! Doesn't look like a recipe for fair and impartial justice to me. But doesn't nonpartison election of judges have huge problems too? Personally, I don't have a clue what I'm voting for when I vote for a judge. These are clandestine campaigns where the only way to know how a judge thinks is to talk to a friend who has seen that judge in Court or to know someone who is personally friends with the person. So the choice is, either be totally clueless about what a judge stands for, or allow your judges to be completely bought and payed for by whoever happens to be the highest bidder.

It seems to me as though popular election of judges, as nice as it sounds, is nothing more than another broken system that resulted in the populist revolution that moved the Country from not being Democratic enough, to being too Democratic. While this movement lead to great things like popular election of Senators, it also went over the top in other areas such as voter initiative, recall, and popular election of judges. Voters need to accept that who they elect to legislatures will have a huge effect on what types of people serve on the bench, this needs to be an issue to voters who then should put the power of confirming judges in the hands of their representatives, who actually know something about these people.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Krugman on Health Care

Curse the New York Times for their subscription wall on the web, without it I would provide a link. Paul Krugman today provides us a new installment in his excellent series of articles advocating universal health care coverage.
Let's start with the fact that America's health care system spends more, for worse results, than any other advanced country.

In 2002 the United States spent $5,267 per person on health care. Canada spent $2,931; Germany spent only $2,160. Yet the United States has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than any of these countries.

But don't people in other countries sometimes find it hard to get medical treatment? Yes, sometimes- but so do Americans. No, Virginia, many Americans can't count on ready access to high-quality medical care.

The journal Health Affairs recently published the results of a survey of the medical experience of "sicker adults" in six countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany, and the United States. The responses don't support claims about superior service from the U.S. system. It's true that Americans generally have shorter waits for elective surgery than Canadians or Britons, although German waits are even shorter. But Americans do worse by some other important measures: we find it harder than citizens of other advanced countries to see a doctor when we need one, and our system is more, not less, rife with medical errors.

Above all, Americans are far more likely than others to forgo treatment because they can't afford it. Forty percent of the Americans surveyed failed to fill a prescription because of cost. A third were deterred by cost from seeing a doctor when sick or from getting recommended tests of follow-up.


Taiwan, which moved 10 years ago from a U.S.-style system to a Canadian-style single payer system, offers advantages of universal coverage. In 1995 less than 60 percent of Taiwan's residents had health insurance; by 2001 the number was 97 percent. Yet according to a careful study published in Health Affairs two years ago, this huge expansion in coverage came virtually free: it led to little if any increase in overall health care spending beyond normal growth due to rising population and incomes.

Emphasis mine. Not only would universal coverage by good for the general public at large, but it would be good for business as well. Businesses would no longer feel any obligation to provide health care to their employees if everyone had health care guaranteed as a United States citizen. This would mean that employers would be able to pay more to their employees in wages and other benefits while actually spending less. This is a good deal for everyone except the insurance industry, but unfortunately it is the insurance industry who seems to have a death grip on Congress.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Robbing the Poor to Give to the Rich

After several rounds of tax cuts for the wealthy, and an energy bill that is nothing more than a subsidy for big oil and gas companies among other things. The Senate has decided enough is enough, we can't continue to look out for those of us with the least. We must cut MediCare, MedicAid, student loans, and farm subsidies. That will show them! We'll punish them for being poor! The Republican majority in Congress is like the big kid on the playground who picks out the smallest 2nd grader and steals his lunch money so that he can get more candy bars.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Good Ol' Bill

Bill O'Reilly's historical revisionism strikes again. Media Matters has the scoop.
From the November 1 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: By the way, if Alito is confirmed, that will be a good thing for conservatives. That's the bottom line. Because Alito will take a more traditional view than a [Supreme Court justices Stephen G.] Breyer or a [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. OK? He'll look at things, and he'll say, "You know, the Founding Fathers didn't want partial-birth abortion. The Founding Fathers didn't want all mention of Christmas stricken from the public arena." That's what Alito will do. He's a traditionalist He's going to rule that way.

According to, celebration of Christmas in America prior to the Revolution depended largely on where one lived. In Jamestown, Virginia, one could celebrate the holiday freely. In Boston, celebration of Christmas incurred a fine of five shillings. Following the Revolution, Christmas was eschewed as "English customs fell out of favor." noted that "Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new Constitution." The holiday remained unpopular for years, and Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

That being said, I actually don't know that this particular ruling by Alito upholding a creche because frosty the snowman and a couple of other secular figures were also on public display is particularly off the mark. My understanding of the case would lead me to say that the town may not have diversified the display enough, but the rationale behind the decision here is valid even if a bit too narrow. Mostly I just enjoy Mr. O'Reilly's outrageous revisions of history. He outlines Ginsberg and Breyer, but certainly in Breyer's case (as evidenced by the recent 10 commandments cases in Texas and Kentucky) his position would only be a matter of degree from Alito's, as Breyer drew the line at precisely the point I draw the line. While I'm at it I may as well point out to Mr. O'Reilly that there is no way the founders could have conceived of abortion in its modern form in any way. This "founders intent" argument is lunacy, you want to argue founders intent? All right, let's argue founders intent.

It was clearly the founders intent that the Constitution would not be some imobile document set in stone, they provided for an amendment process for the changing of the document itself, as well as inserting an odd, little used amendment into the bill of rights. I refer here to the 9th amendment, stating essentially that the people have rights not specifically outlined in the Constitution. The 9th is so vague as to provide no clues as to what should be considered a valid unenumerated right, but it nonetheless proves that the founders actually felt that new situations reaching beyond the scope of their document would arise, and that they put the 9th into the bill of rights in order to ensure that some idiot doesn't come along and say that the only rights that exist are those specifically listed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendments.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

DailyKos Diary

I posted a DailyKos diary today, I normally cross post them, but this one would be redundant here, it's the same argument I've made when you combine 2 or 3 of my recent posts on Alito. But by all means check it out.

Bush: Still Falling

Just when you think it can't get any lower, it does. CBS News poll finds that Bush approval rating is now at a stunning 35%, perhaps its time I lower my view of what his base sits on. Perhaps its closer to 30%.

Gallup Says Americans Want Alito Rejected if he would Vote to Overturn Roe

Gallup has some interesting results about Alito (I would say "Scalito" but apparently that would make me anti-Italian somehow).
* About the same number of Americans rate Alito's selection either excellent or good (43%) as rate it fair or poor (39%). Miers received a similar rating, but Roberts' rating was somewhat more positive: 51% excellent or good, 34% fair or poor.

* More people feel positive rather than negative about Alito personally -- 44% to 19%, respectively -- with another third offering no rating. Again, Miers' rating was similar, but a majority, 54%, gave Roberts a favorable personal rating.

* About half of those interviewed Tuesday night believe Alito's views are mainstream, while a quarter think his views are too extreme, and another quarter have no opinion.

* It doesn't bother most Americans (75%) that Alito is a man nominated to replace the first woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court. About the same percentage were not bothered when Roberts was first nominated to replace O'Connor (after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, President Bush nominated Roberts to become chief justice).

* The public is evenly divided as to whether Alito probably would or would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thirty-eight percent believe he would, and an equal percentage think he would not, with the rest offering no opinion.

* If it becomes clear Alito would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade, Americans would not want the Senate to confirm him, by 53% to 37%.

* If most Senate Democrats oppose the nomination and decide to filibuster against Alito, 50% of Americans believe they would be justified, while 40% say they would not.

* If the Republicans then decide to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations, to ensure an "up-or-down vote" on the nomination, Americans would be evenly divided as to whether that tactic was justified -- 45% say it would be, 47% say it would not.

Interesting results, the trick here I think is giving Americans something very coherent and easy to grasp about Alito. My perception is that no matter who a nominee is, the public gives them the benefit of the doubt, and if Democrats continue to do what they have begun doing in the last few days, repeating "he's out of the mainstream" or "he's too extreme" there will be no upsurge in public opposition to Alito. What must be done is that something simple and coherent must be established firmly and repeated over and over again. This poll indicates that if we can use opposition to Roe to do that, we can win on that. However, there are other arguments that may prove far more convincing and should create an even greater public support of Democrats blocking him. I am, of course referring to the idea that Alito consistantly comes down in opposition to equality. That I believe is the ticket to defeating this nomination. If we can establish a firm coherent reason be it opposition to Roe or hostility to equality, or anything else that may stick to demonstrate why the public should oppose the Alito nomination we will have a chance to win the filibuster battle that is bound to occur over this nomination.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Reid's Closed Door Session

Harry Reid today forced the Senate into closed session evicting nearly everyone not a Senator, including most staffers, closing the doors, and turning off the TV cameras. The reason? To force the Senate to move the intelligence committee into phase 2 of the investigation of intelligence failures of the Iraq war. Phase 2 being an inquiry into how the Administration used or misused the intelligence that it had. The tactic worked, forcing the creation of a bipartison panel to oversee the actions of the intelligence committee. The panel will consist of three Democrats and three Republicans. Not only did this force the Republican majority to listen to the minority Party, but it sent a warning shot accross the bow of the Senate Republican Caucus that Democrats are willing to no longer abide by the gentlemen's agreement that these tactics will not be used if the minority Party is not listened to. If Republicans succeed with the nuclear option, this is what we can expect from Democrats all the way up to the midterm elections. They will refuse to allow bills to be assigned by committee through unamimous consent and will force the full Senate to consider every single bill. This will demonstrate a lesson in the strongest possible way to Republicans that they must listen to the minority party, and if they don't the minority will force them to listen. Mr. Frist, we're now playing hardball, and the fate of the Senate is in your hands, you can restore the traditions of oversight and bipartison cooperation or you can watch business slow to a near standstill, it's up to you, but I would recommend you start caring a little bit about the opinion of the minority party.