Jun 30, 2008

The Conservatives Have Opposed Most of the Good Things We Take for Granted Today

Today, NPR did a story on the 40th anniversary of Earl Warren's retirement from the Supreme Court, and it reminded me of the important role the high court has played in shaping our country. Even a cursory look back at the court's major decisions, it's easy to see the differences between the liberals and the conservatives: That the conservatives have opposed over the last several decades it has now widespread support!

The conservatives (I include the Dixiecrats) have opposed all legislation and SCOTUS rulings in regards to civil rights. Just to name a few: desegregation, voting rights, reproductive choice & women's rights, privacy issues, church & state separation, Miranda rights of self incrimination and procedure, illegally seized evidence not admitted in court, etc, etc.

The high court has ruled that the Bill of Rights applies not only to the federal government but also to the states--an opinion that isn't shared by justices Scalia and Thomas! [here's a link to an earlier post discussing the views of Scalia & Thomas] Seriously, they believe the First Amendment doesn't apply to atheists and the Establishment Clause doesn't apply to the states! Can we affort to add another justice to the RATS (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia) team on SCOTUS?

McCain will make sure that the Supreme Court will go back. If for nothing else, the next president will have a chance to shape our country via SCOTUS for many years after he leaves office. With Obama--assuming that the next vacancies will most probably be from the liberals (Ginsberg, Stevens, Souter)--we can hold the line.

I didn't want to include all the other good things we managed to secure for the commonwealth despite the rabid conservative response, like Social Security, minimum wage, labor laws, etc., etc.

The problem is that conservatives do not have a positive proposal for government! It's a philosophical stance, that government is bad, (except when it gives preferential treatment to the elites), and that smaller is better... If you don't think that government can be a force for good change and empowerment, then you should never be allowed to get a hold of any major public office.

PS. I'm frequently updating the Meet the Presidential Candidates column (right side of this blog). Currently, there's a nice video of McCain's ideas about sex education, birth control, etc.

Jun 24, 2008

The Real Issue of the Telco Immunity is to Cover-up The Illegalities of the Bush Regime

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The 4th Amendment, US Constitution

The House passed a bill giving retroactive immunity to the telecommunication comanies (telcos) for helping Bush perpetrate the illegal spying on Americans. The Senate is taking up the measure these days. It's about the FISA law that gives the government quick access to any person who is deemed a threat to the US national security.

There's lots of talking points out there--most probably you've heard already--and many Americans don't understand what the issue is. Here it is:

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution supposedly is in force; it hasn't been changed. If you look closely, this constitutional provision also creates a record of governmental activity, which is necessary for accountability!

The telcos cooperated with the Bush administration--and they knew they were breaking the law. What Bush & Co want to do is not necessarily protect the telcos from lawsuits (from customers whose rights have been violated), but when those cases end up in court, then they will reveal the extend of the illegality perpetrated by the current regime! That's why Congress should not give immunity to the telcos, and, by extension, to this criminal administration!

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI):
"[Immunity] doesn't simply have the impact of potentially allowing telephone companies to break the law," Feingold said. "It may well prevent us from getting to the core issue, that I've challenged since December 2005, which is the president ran an illegal program I think that was essentially an impeachable offense."

The Senator went on to criticize the Democrats in the House and the Senate who caved in.

Update: Sen. Barack Obama supports this compromise FISA bill, and this is wrong!!! The argument that a future president Obama may criminally prosecute the telcos isn't a good one. We need to know what has happened so the next President can prosecute the law breakers. What was Obama thinking on this one???!!!

Here's a case where progressives argue and debate this issue: Olbermann v. Greenwald. I think it's very important not to keep quiet when a candidate we support makes a big mistake, like this one!

Update 7/1/08: mcjoan on DailyKos unearthed this gem, from former SCOTUS justice Louis Brandeis.

If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means 'to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal' would bring terrible retribution. What a thought, heh?!!

Jun 12, 2008

The Supreme Court (by slim margin): The U.S. Constitution is Still Valid!

<-- GITMO--US military base in Cuba (AP)

If you didn't know already, the Supreme Court has a marginal majority of more or less sane judges--something that will change (for better or worse) when the next president takes office. In another "stunning blow" to the Bush regime, SCOTUS, by 5-4, decided that the GITMO detainees have rights of habeas corpus (due process) even if they're foreign nationals. The high court reaffirmed the principle that the US constitution affords rights to persons (not just citizens) and that not even Congress can take away those rights. [here's the complete SCOTUS decision,in pdf]

Bush&Co thought to keep the enemy combatants on Cuban soil so that the laws of the United States didn't apply to them. There are hundreds of detainees at the US base in Cuba. Some of them are really bad people but some were caught in a wide dragnet when the US was paying thousands of dollars to local warlords to turn in "enemy combatants." You can imagine who accurate this was. Thus, the question is what should a person who's been caught & labeled "enemy combatant" do? Should the US detain such persons for ever without any charges filed against them? And, for no way for them to petition the courts? Of course not! If we are to remain a nation of laws, and not of men--like the Old Regime's elites that operated outside the law--then we have to maintain our high standards of legality of a civilized & liberal society.

What's also obvious, is that the country has to opt for a regime change in the White House, and for a Congress that will void the disgraceful Military Commissions Act. As the case Marbury v. Madison showed, the Executive and Congress cannot act in violation of the constitution. It also established the principle of judicial review--that the courts can rule on the legality of the actions by the branches of our government.

However, there are radical extremists on SCOTUS nowadays. Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and increasingly Roberts who want to reverse the progress the US has achieved in civil rights and liberties. Three of them are ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, and even demolish the separation of church & state--as Scalia & Thomas seem to think that such restrictions apply only to the federal government not the states!!!! Just think about this. Then make sure Bush&Co don't get a third term.

The nation is "at war with radical Islamists" and that the court's decision "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."
Dissenting Justice Scalia

This is in line with Scalia's views on torture--that torture is OK as long as it is not punishment--as he argued in his recent interview on 60 Minutes. Sure, what a brilliant legal mind he's got! Our country has faced far greater enemies than the terrorists today, so there's no excuse for giving up those principles and conditions we've been admired for and have made our country great.

"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
Justice Kennedy writing for the majority opinion of the Supreme Court

Jun 11, 2008

Obama's Choices for VP Should be about the Future, not the Past or Present

There's lots of "short lists" for Obama's VP choice floating around, but I don't understand why most of those names appear on such lists. [here's one from Huff Post/MSNBC] I think most of this pre-vetting process has more to do with a show and to keep certain people happy (for being considered), than with reality.

Sen. Obama needs to pick someone to complement the ticket, not bring negatives to it. Furthermore, I hope that Obama picks someone who could be presidential material in eight years--an incumbent VP in 2016 who is progressive enough and will solidify the political realignment & progressive direction of the country.

I'm not ready to make any predictions yet; we'll have a much better understanding of the situation after the convention. I'm cautiously optimistic though, and there are several indicators that point to a historic political realignment about to take place. It's even possible that the election won't even be that close. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves right now.

The VP choice would further give Obama a boost, but he should choose someone who can carry the mantle forward not just a party elder to "anchor" the ticket. Clinton and Gore, both in their 40s, did just fine, so a younger age isn't a problem. The most important thing is to get a VP who can have an active & complementary role in the next administration. This election will be about change, and this can begin with two people who have a similar vision of where the United States should be in the near & foreseeable future. Let's not forget that we don't have much (if any) margin for error anymore thanks to the present gang in the White House.

PS. If it's another Senator, he/she cannot be at the expense of losing a Democratic seat in the Senate! Yes, it is very important the Dems get a serious majority in the upper chamber too, hopefully 60. One of the very first things to do after the election is to kick Lieberman (I/R-CT) out of any position of influence.

Jun 3, 2008

Barack Obama Wins The Democratic Presidential Contest! [please, someone tell Sen. Clinton it's over!]

The Democrats Have Selected their Presidential Candidate.

This is a historic moment for the United States, and the first step to changing the direction of our country. Not so long ago, who could have imagined that a Clinton with lots of money, insider support, and "air of inevitability" would be ultimately defeated by a black man with a funny name--Barack Hussein Obama?! That the junior senator from Illinois would be the one to lead the Democratic party to vie for the presidency in 2008?!! This is the time for change, and I mean progressive change!

This contest has been decided today after a long, harsh, but beneficial process. It gave the opportunity to millions of Americans--many new to politics--to participate in an important event, and to many others to get to know the next president of the US. Senator Obama learned a great deal as well from this long campaign--a necessary experience for him to be "vetted" and become a better, formidable candidate.

This is an opportunity to celebrate and look ahead with hope. However, there's a sour note in this: Senator Clinton refused to concede! "No decision tonight," she said. I say, what's the point senator? What the hell are you trying to achieve now? This is not about you anymore. The millions of Americans that voted for you are not your property. Thank you for your participation, now be gracious and throw your support behind Sen. Obama! It's over, as it should be. And, please, don't try to fool us by asking your supporters to go to your website to tell you what to do next! You don't know?!! Of course, you do! You still think it's about you, and that you can hold hostage a political party that is so near to winning an extremely important election!

This used to be funny, but I bet it can get ugly if Clinton persists

On the other hand, Sen. Clinton has to look no further than her own speech tonight (6/3/08) to see who should be the next president of the country. Who would implement change and the policies she advocates? Sen. Clinton, to her credit, talked about health care for every American, better opportunities for education, smarter foreign policy in Iraq, medical research, an economy that serves most Americans, stopping the genocide in Darfur, and having pro-environment policies! Also as a pro-choice woman, Hillary knows that the future of the Supreme Court is at stake here--the next president will definitely nominate at least one justice to the high court. Not even for a moment does she think that Sen. McCain would be the better president! If so, she should stop being petulant and selfish, and work hard to elect Obama and as many progressive Democrats to Congress in November!

"Deranged narcissism." CNN's Jeffrey Toobin on Clinton's refusal to concede.

As for the so-called "dream ticket," I don't think it would be a good idea for Obama to offer the VP spot to Clinton, at least not yet. He should take his time, examine the possibilities and potential running mates. He should get a boost in the country after today, and his VP choice should be a gain-only to the ticket. It should be a deliberative choice not one under pressure from the Clinton camp. It'll take a while. Obviously it goes without saying that Sen. Clinton has to "disband her army" and drop her demands--just as she would expect Sen. Obama to do if she had won the contest!

PS>As I've said numerous times in the past few months, I still don't think the Democratic party will get to the Convention in August divided. If I was advising Hillary, I'd tell her to drop this silliness before the party leadership [remember, she doesn't control the party], the activists, the netroots, and many of her own troops come down on her like a ton of bricks.

Update, 6/8
Well, it's done. Hillary Clinton saw the light (that the party would not stand for her ..narcissism) and today she suspended her campaign. According to some reports, she's almost $30 million in the red, so by suspending she can still raise money to pay off her bills. So far, I've predicted correctly that the Dems would finish this selection process in the first week of June, and solidify behind Obama. What's happened so far, it will be ancient history by the time Obama accepts the nomination 45 years to the day Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

Jun 2, 2008

Dying for Love.... Victims of Barbaric Customs [an update]

This is the update on the earlier (May 12, 2008) post here, Dying for Love.. There's a new tragic development.

The mother who defied the killers of her 17-year old daughter is herself murdered.

According to The Guardian: Five weeks ago Leila Hussein told The Observer the chilling story of how her husband had killed their 17-year-old daughter over her friendship with a British soldier in Basra. Now Leila, who had been in hiding, has been murdered - gunned down in cold blood. [click on the links for more info].