the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Friday, February 28, 2003  

Bill Moyers on Patriotism

Bill Moyers had a wonderful commentary tonight on patriotism that I think is very relevant today. He pointed out that he was wearing an American flag pin on his lapel for the first time on this program.

I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans.

Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart's affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother's picture on my lapel to prove her son's love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

So what's this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo -- the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's little red book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread. [Ed: emphasis mine]

He concluded this wonderful, eloquent essay with the following:

The flag belongs to the country, not to the government. And it reminds me that it's not un-American to think that war -- except in self-defense is is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomacy. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.

I've been thinking for quite awhile, being a real patriot during these times means standing up for what our country really stands for. And it does not stand for a country that is willing to engage in preemptive war in order to prevent a potential problem. Moyers has captured my thoughts and feelings on this issue incredibly well.

Don't miss the rest of the NOW program. Moyers had an interview with Nat Hentloft about civil liberties and Joseph Wilson about the War in Iraq.

posted by Mary at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

Stand Down discusses the vitriol surrounding the oil question, read the comments for other good links dissecting the matter further.

Atrios tells us that the administration may cut Americorps funding by 50%, which is apparently what he meant by saying that he would increase it by 50%.

David E on the garbage tips the US has been giving to inspectors, and shares the message of the LA Times to liberals: drop dead.

The Mad Prophet succumbs to outrage overload while talking about Bush's poll numbers, and points us to an article indicating that human shields may be prosecuted as war criminals.

The Sideshow suggests that bloggers help Draft Gore. A cracking idea whose time has come. A good candidate for my next public outreach project.

Read the Liberal Oasis coverage of PNAC & Bush's speech to the AEI, which is far more interesting than all those non-descript acronyms make it sound like. Look at these clips from the speech, and then go promptly over to read the background on it:

'...We meet here during a crucial period in the history of our nation, and of the civilized world. Part of that history was written by others; the rest will be written by us. ...The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life...."

Warblogging continues to document the decline in civil liberties disguised under the name of the Patriot Act.

And, as an update on my part in the Virtual March on Washington, I finally got through to the White House comment line today. I asked the nice lady to tell the President that I hoped he would 'find a diplomatic solution to the situation in Iraq that doesn't involve having to bribe other countries for their support.' I was about to add something about Halliburton, but there was a distinct intake of air on the other end of the line as soon as the word 'bribe' came up. My work there is done. For now.

posted by Natasha at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK |

Around the web:

Is Labour's long enchantment with Blair coming to an end?

More on the growing specter of fallout between Turkey and the Kurds.

The Arab News has three articles about women in Saudi society, competing for private sector jobs, disproportionately poor (as in every country), and largely excluded from discussions about the future.

Both the content and venue of Bush's speech on Wednesday is proof enough that this is a neo-con show all the way.

The Bush administration's key piece of evidence in its crusade against Iraqi WMDs, the testimony of a defector, doesn't say what they told us it said. FAIR points out the utter failure of the media to notice, helped by the fact that the witness is deceased, and can't contradict anyone.

Monbiot talks about why American unilateralism undermines its ability to get its way. Truly, the thing that should really leave our power brokers quaking is the prospect mentioned toward the end, that the dollar might stop being the preferred reserve currency. The world's largest debtor nation will no longer be able to afford globe-trotting military adventurism if the artificially high dollar plummets to a more reasonable value.

Are we safer yet? Well, state and local officials are disappointed in the quality of information spooned out by the FBI, and frustrated by the lack of first-responder funds.

Is dissent enough? David Edwards thinks it's time for civil disobedience.

Iran has closed its border with Iraq, and they will not accept refugees. Iran has the world's largest refugee population, even after the return of many Afghan expatriates, and can no longer afford to absorb any more.

posted by Natasha at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, February 27, 2003  

Public Service Announcement:

How much do you know about what Iraq is like these days? Well, I received the following email from a friend and it looks like there is a way to us to find out more.

This Saturday, March 1st, there will be a remarkable event by DCTV--87 in Manhattan, called Bridge to Baghdad starting at 11:30 am ET lasting 2 1/2 hours. It is a live, satellite-linked dialogue between students in New York and Baghdad to speak about their lives, culture, and politics.

The American students who will be speaking on this program represent diverse ethnicities, religions and political perspectives. They have journalists in Baghdad who are working hard to find ways to create open dialogue on the Iraqi side as well.

"Bridge to Baghdad is neither pro-war nor anti-war. We feel young people around the world are underrepresented in politics and our purpose is to give them a chance to speak up."

This dialogue is produced by Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) a community media arts center with the mission of democratizing the media, and NextNext Entertainment. It will be turned into a program for television and the internet.

For more information, check out:

Interested journalists are encouraged to contact Justin Krebs by phone @ 212-925-3429 x 243 or by email @

posted by Mary at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK |

Watching the so-called news on cable:

The big talk today has been the cancellation of the Donahue show on MSNBC, one which I only occasionally watched because it seemed that a) Donahue had Jerry Falwell (or someone that sounded like him) on even more often than Chris Matthews did and, b) it's easy for me to get Donaue overdose. But occasionally he had interesting guests, and talked about subjects that few other people would talk about. Also, it was clear that he hadn't picked half the audience from a Young Republicans group.

Hesiod and TAPPED have done a good job of explaining why, in spite of having the highest rated show on MSNBC, he was dumped just as he was starting to find an audience. But last night I chanced on 'Your World w/ Neil Cavuto' on Fox, and they had a completely different take.

First, they started off with one of the indistinguishable female anchors that looks like she was discovered off the 700 Club (fundy chic is obvious to the trained eye), wearing an expression of high snide. And her opener for this little 'report' montage was to wonder if it was Phil, or just liberals in general? Why can't they get a compelling liberal to stay on the air? And then the barrage of 'expert opinion' clips: Liberals think they know it all, they're too sanctimonious, they preach from ivory towers. Right-wingers are more salt of the earth. Conservatives dominate because that's what people want to listen to. And, straight from the mouth of Sean Hannity, "Liberals do not have a sense of humor. Period."

Then Cavuto interviewed Gloria Allred* and Michael Harrison of Talkers, to 'find out' what the story was. Neither guest really seemed to make more interesting of a point than Allred's reasonable, but pallid, defense that they didn't get enough opportunities to know. Harrison said that perhaps it was because conservatives were angry, and liberals weren't. (I don't know about that, most of the liberals I know of are pretty steamed.)

Cavuto himself was spinning the 'free market' angle, that if conservatives dominated it must simply be higher demand (I guess he's never heard of Randi Rhodes). That advertisers preferred them (maybe, but why?), and again, the sense of humor thing. Then, in what was surely an unintentionally funny remark, he said that in the "exacting world of news and talk radio" liberals don't make it. Come again?

This from a man whose show airs on the same station that ran Geraldo Rivera's "report from Tora Bora." Talking about talk radio, whose pre-eminent conservative pundits are Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. Someone fetch Mr. Cavuto a dictionary, and make him write out the definition of exacting 100 times.

It didn't get any cheerier when I caught bits of MSNBC's 'Showdown with Saddam' this morning, to get 10 minutes of this vitally important news: Threat level down to yellow after 3 weeks at orange. A reporter walking around in a hangar where they paint F-16s cleverly exclaiming to the long-suffering soldier in the interview 'You use the same kind of tape I'd use to paint at home.' As a closer, they mentioned that Robert Blake would be in court today.

I kept watching for a few minutes (it was the top of the hour), and the beginning of the show I'd just finished watching came on again. I had to put a stop to it when their correspondent from Turkey described the Turkish parliament as "dragging their feet" on the question of allowing US troops in. No one had the presence of mind to wonder whether or not, if Turkey had voted today, it would have been better to have to report that the hugely unpopular motion had failed in parliament.

*Is Gloria Allred the only non-hollywood liberal they're allowed to have on talking head shows anymore?

posted by Natasha at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

The History News Network talks about McCarthyism.

See The Forest has the latest event in the voting machines saga, with Santa Clara county in California rejecting the idea of requiring hardcopy records of the votes.

Ruminate This tells us about the human shield movement.

Something's Got To Break has the real military history of France.

As Atrios has found, MSNBC's new talk show host, Michael Savage, thinks that anti-war leaders need to be arrested to protect the troops. Those wouldn't be the same troops heading out to defend our freedoms, would they?

Untelevised demonstrates that O'Reilly agrees with Savage, deflates the fuss and noise over the Estrada nomination, and talks about the proposed changes to the FCC ownership rules, which really can't be talked about enough.

Ampersand has the wednesday cartoon up, and an interesting post about multiculturalism below that.

The Teamsters feel the brunt of Bush administration diplomacy. Is it just me, or has mentioning this administration and the word diplomacy in the same sentence come to seem like an oxymoron regardless of context?

Richard Perle to world: You're Next.

Back to Iraq on the complex motivations and ideology behind the proposed war.

Body and Soul pays tribute to Fred Rogers.

posted by Natasha at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK |

What choice will you have?

Hi all, Mary here. Natasha has offered to let me have a guest spot on her blog where I can spout off on bigger topics than I can normally do in comment threads. (Thanks, Natasha! I hope you aren't disappointed.)

One thing I've been thinking about lately is bait and switch policy making, which seems to be the modus operandi of the Bush administration. No matter what the issue is, when a policy has wound its way through the Republican controlled legislature and ended up under Bush's ideological administration, it seems that what once might have been a good idea ends up poisoned, and all one is left with is a policy that is designed to hurt ordinary Americans.

Last week Nathan Newmann had an essay about a casualty of the Bush education policy. But it didn't need to be that way. If there was ever an idea that started off with positive potential, this was one. Both Ted Kennedy and Jim Jeffords were proud to stand with President Bush during the signing of the No Child Left Behind act. And if you remember, the one major domestic policy area where Bush claimed to have solid credentials from his term as governor, was the education front. However, when you look at how this act has been twisted and deformed, you have to wonder if the goal of Bush and his henchmen was to devise a way to destroy for once and all, the notion that a solid public education is a right in this country.

If you just look at the testing regimen for public school children, you would wonder who ever thought that children in school could discover a joy for learning when the entire focus of the education year is to teach children how to take standardized tests and everything about the school is based on their success.(1) Let me say that I am all for high standards and really believe that you can inspire children (as well as the rest of us) to much greater achievement if you expect a lot from them. This was clearly the message delivered by that the wonderful movie, Stand and Deliver, with Edward James Olmos. But, it makes a big difference how you set expectations and what you do to help people meet those expectations. (Remember, it was the old guard that was incapable of imagining that the kids attending the East LA school had the potential to succeed at Calculus. Low expectations can be a killer for kids and for us as we go about our lives.)

Furthermore, the Bush administration doesn't just want to make the life of public school children (and their teachers and parents) miserable. They've come up with the remarkable suggestion that 4 year-olds in Head Start must get tested. What better way to destroy the love of learning for a kid? What do they hope to prove with this? The Black Commentator has a suggestion about what this means for Head Start:

Head Start, the most widely praised program to emerge from the Sixties War on Poverty, is about to be sorely tested. Since 1965, Head Start has been unparalleled in promoting the social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as health services, for children in poverty. While Head Start has survived innumerable political and ideological battles through both Republican and Democratic administrations, the challenge from the Bush crew is unprecedented. They threaten to test the program out of existence.

Under the political guidance of Right ideologue Wade Horn, "the Bush administration intends to require each of the 500,000 4-year-old's in the federal Head Start program to sit for a standardized examination measuring such information as how many letters and numbers they can recognize, and whether they know how to hold a book right side up," according to the December 4 New York Times.

Furthermore, the Black Commentator provides evidence that once again, Bush and crew believe in subverting science for their partisan agenda. The way the No Child Left Behind act is being implemented is another example of their wolf in sheep's clothing governance.

Bush's purported pursuit of all things scientifically testable was again brought to light January 30, 2003, when the Department of Education released the names of the individuals who will be guiding the assessment of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or as Bush re-named it, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The intent of the Congress was that NCLB be grounded in "scientifically based research."(2) What this means in practice is that any program that the Department funds is supposed to be able to prove its validity using scientifically recognized methods. However, Bush's bureaucrats have placed science at the service of their own brand of politics. For example, Bush's lackeys in Education recently decided that the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (which had been around since the beginning of the Department of Education) didn't focus enough on scientific research. So OERI was axed - only to be replaced by the Institute of Education Sciences, which does the same things OERI was doing before. Only these guys are better at utilizing the language of science to defund public education.

So who are the people appointed by the Bush administration to set policy for these national tests?

There are a few legitimate education leaders on the panel, among them Christopher Cross, who currently works at the Center for Education Policy. However, other appointees have no business serving on a panel designed expressly to look at scientifically based evidence. Two panelists in particular need to be scrutinized closely: Kaleem Caire of the American Education Reform Council (AERC) and Tasha Tillman of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS).

Both Caire and Tillman are people who are actively working for school vouchers. Why would Bush put them in charge of implementing the national testing program for public schools?

It has become quite obvious that the Right is circling and penetrating the public schools, using stealth as a tactic. In the same way that the language of No Child Left Behind doesn't explicitly mention vouchers, there's a mountain of money available for "school choice" which they want you to believe means public schools. Meanwhile, Tillman can toil away quietly behind a curtain of public school choice, all the while working to promote the Bradley Foundation's vision of what public schools should look like.

So, what's happening to the No Child Left Behind act is a concerted effort to promote vouchers, to tap into the federal money that should be going to our public schools and an attempt to remake the public schools into something that promotes the right’s agenda. Private schools, of course, don't have to meet these testing standards. When this happens, what choices will our children have then?

(1) Japan certainly has rigorous expectations for school children, but their tests are setup for high school, and not elementary schools. And why is it that our approach is, "this school (or person) failed" rather than, "I wonder why this school (or person) is having such a hard time, perhaps there are some things we can do to help them be successful?" One message is an indictment of the school (or person), the other is focused on trying to improve or fix things.

(2) One wishes that the Bush administration was as enamored of using science to base some of their other policies such as Star Wars and Drug Treatment programs. Of course, if the people involved in "scientifically evaluating" a policy are already convinced that their answer is right, it's not science.

[Ed: (2/27/03) fixed faulty links.]

posted by Mary at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, February 26, 2003  

Well, having joined the Virtual March on Washington, I found that at my appointed time the phone lines in DC are all busy. I'll take that for a good sign. I went ahead and called my senators' local offices to leave my message, and while they seemed busy they were able to answer the phones. But the White House is just going to have to get my call some other time, they're full up at the moment, and they don't have a local office.

I told my senators that I hoped they'd work to repeal the use of force authorization, and try to find diplomatic solutions that we don't have to bribe other countries to support. And, since both of my senators are Democrats (lucky me), I got to thank them for helping block the Estrada nomination.

posted by Natasha at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

Body and Soul has been on game lately. Go read her take on whether intent or action is more important.

The Sideshow notices that the press has finally noticed that Bushies lie, and wonders whether or not there are now *any* situations in which the terrorists will have lost.

Martin Wisse talks about commies for peace.

Ruminate This talks about the deportation of Bernadette Devlin, and an academic from Greece, and after reading this post my level of concern about this administration's policies (and Britain's for that matter) went up a notch. By now, I'm surprised that's even possible.

The Agonist finds that not only has the Bush administration pulled out of a bunch of treaties, they've pulled out of the treaty that says they must honor their treaties. I'm not an atheist, but I feel more and more drawn to that position of late.

Talk Left speaks about the terror case against a Florida professor whose case is groundbreaking in its scope and precedent, and blogging addiction, a topic that seems to be increasingly on the minds of bloggers lately.

Daily Kos has more on the Estrada nomination, and tells us that Ari Fleischer was laughed off the stage at yesterday's press conference for asserting that the support of other nations isn't being bought off. I wish I'd seen that.

posted by Natasha at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK |

Venezuela Update:

After a long lapse of attention, here's the latest from our embattled oil supplier to the south. There seems to be no imminent danger of a coup, though there are some signs that Chavez could be overplaying his hand, and civil unrest has not entirely ceased. Though, as I mentioned to the author of Beautiful Horizons, I'm far more concerned that Venezuela keep its democratic process and constitution than that Chavez be perfect, or even be re-elected. (Beautiful Horizons, btw, is a good source for knowledgeable Latin American commentary and human rights issues in general.)

BBC profiles the opposition and the supporters.

Strike leader Carlos Fernandez was arrested at a restaurant, as violence and kidnappings occur in the capital. And Carlos Ortega, another strike leader, has been issued a citation. The courts say that the citations were issued two days before the public arrest of Fernandez, but neither of the men voluntarily turned themselves in to face charges. Fernandez has been put under house arrest.

Four people injured as the Caracas Colombian and Spanish embassies are bombed, two days after Chavez gave a speech asking the two nations to stop interfering with the country. As for my suspicions about the source of the attacks, well, the police also are not leaping to blame. The only other use of explosives thus far occured at a pro-Chavez rally on a day when the oppostion was told to stay home.

ChevronTexaco will be loading their first shipments from Venezuela since the walkout began in December. (When did those two companies buy each other?)

A brief review of Venezuelan history.

VHeadlines believes that a third coup attempt is in the works.

Reuters AlertNet is very concerned that there will be No More Mr. Nice Guy. An excerpt, emphasis mine:

His offensive is off to a roaring start. He's fired more than 13,000 dissident oil workers, crushed an opposition oil walkout and outlasted a two-month nationwide strike meekly abandoned this month. He has also tightened his grip on private sector enemies with newly imposed price and currency controls....

Most troubling for his opponents -- and there are millions -- is that the populist president's crackdown has been carried out within the bounds of Venezuela's loosely written laws, observers say. That has left little room for protest by wary foreign diplomats, especially in the United States, where the Bush administration was stung for its hesitant condemnation of last year's putsch.

"His main game is playing the constitutional president. He plays it up to the brink, but all of the measures he takes always have some sort of legal base," said Caracas-based political analyst Janet Kelly. ...

Just to recap - Since the second coup attempt in a year, led by the same group of people, Chavez has done the following:

  • Made bellicose and impolitic public statements.
  • Issued arrest warrants, resulting in the house arrest of an apparently whole and healthy opposition leader.
  • Fired people who brought the entire economy to the brink of bankruptcy.
  • Enacted price and currency controls that were approved by even US financial analysts under the circumstances.
  • Condemned foreign countries for their highly probable involvement in the attempted overthrow of a democracy.
  • Acted within the law.

Now it would certainly change my opinion of the situation if it was demonstrated that President Chavez was responsible for those embassy bombings, but I very much doubt it. The chavistas have won for now, and not only does such an act appear to be desperation on the part of the opposition, but it falls within the pattern of 'social unrest' seen in other pre-coup Latin American countries. As does much of the rest of this affair.

The fact that critics are reduced to fuming that his actions have... god help us... a legal basis, says a lot. If there was credible evidence that his government was involved in anything worse than an assault on good manners, I rest assured that such evidence would be in every major paper in America by now. The Bush administration, who cheered the April coup, would be openly gloating.

President Chavez is far from ideal, he may or may not be highly popular, but until his opponents can come up with some better claims I don't believe that his unconstitutional removal is justified.

It's often the case that the people who appear likeable aren't always very pleasant, and all possible combinations thereof. I have to look no farther than our own compassionate conservative leadership, well groomed and 'plainspoken', to find an example of someone who can't be taken at face value. Half the country thought that Bush would be a great guy to have a beer with, but he's proven to be exceptionally dangerous as president. The intent shines through sooner or later.

Chavez has not engaged in bloody pogroms. He has not turned the army back into the instrument of rural terror that it used to be. Has not, to my knowledge, pursued the detain-and-torture policies of the man he tried to overthrow. He did not take over by force television stations that broadcast all-coup-all-the-time programming, or violently break up the resultant protests that halted virtually every aspect of national commerce. All in spite of the fact that he has, at this point, the full loyalty of the military behind him. Something that other leaders in similar situations have abused no end.

In fact, such restraint is exceptionally rare in developing nations with income inequalities as bad as Venezuela's. In the mid-90s, Brazil tried to solve the problem of too many street children by having the police shoot them. And they were just looking for a meal and somewhere to sleep. So really, in a region plagued by drug murders, guerilla kidnappings, paramilitary death squads, brutal police forces, peasants being poisoned with aerial pesticides, civil wars, etc., is the house arrest of someone known to have been plotting a coup that big a deal? Come on.

Venezuela Archives

posted by Natasha at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, February 25, 2003  

Miguel Estrada

Earlier today, CSPAN showed the senate debating the Estrada nomination, and it sure sounded to me like those Democrats had spines and everything. Some brief, paraphrased highligts:

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told us that Republicans had said that the DC Circuit court didn't need any more judges when Clinton was in office because the case load had declined, and there were plenty to cover it. Now that the caseload has declined even further, and a Republican is in office, that Circuit now needs another judge. He also pointed out that many of Clinton's nominees were anonymously blocked, whereas what the Democrats were presently doing was part of the public record.

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) said that the debate about this nomination had started to reach out into the public, even into the liberal media. Stating that because the Washington Post had published an editorial against the filibuster, and because the Washington Post is near universally believed to be liberal, this was proof of broad consensus against it. You can read the article yourself and see what you think. He further declared that by requiring a supermajority, Democrats indicated that not only did they plan to be in the minority for a long time, but that they didn't expect to be able to vote on the nominees of a Democratic president.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told listeners that a Republican senator from Idaho had the other day stated that he voted against some Clinton nominees based on philosophy. Sen. Clinton went on to agree that this was a fair reason for a no vote, but said that members on her side of the aisle had been deprived of this opportunity because they had not been informed of Estrada's philosophy. In absence of a history of cases, the Democratic leadership had sent the White House a message requesting copies of Estrada's legal briefs, but had been turned down.

Further, she quoted from a recent SCOTUS decision, and the words of Justice Scalia himself. (The portions she quoted are in bold, as best I can remember, the rest is included for context): "... It is perhaps possible to use the term “impartiality” in the judicial context (though this is certainly not a common usage) to mean lack of preconception in favor of or against a particular legal view. This sort of impartiality would be concerned, not with guaranteeing litigants equal application of the law, but rather with guaranteeing them an equal chance to persuade the court on the legal points in their case. Impartiality in this sense may well be an interest served by the announce clause, but it is not a compelling state interest, as strict scrutiny requires. A judge’s lack of predisposition regarding the relevant legal issues in a case has never been thought a necessary component of equal justice, and with good reason. For one thing, it is virtually impossible to find a judge who does not have preconceptions about the law. As then-Justice Rehnquist observed of our own Court: “Since most Justices come to this bench no earlier than their middle years, it would be unusual if they had not by that time formulated at least some tentative notions that would influence them in their interpretation of the sweeping clauses of the Constitution and their interaction with one another. It would be not merely unusual, but extraordinary, if they had not at least given opinions as to constitutional issues in their previous legal careers.” Laird v. Tatum, 409 U.S. 824, 835 (1972) (memorandum opinion). Indeed, even if it were possible to select judges who did not have preconceived views on legal issues, it would hardly be desirable to do so. “Proof that a Justice’s mind at the time he joined the Court was a complete tabula rasa in the area of constitutional adjudication would be evidence of lack of qualification, not lack of bias.” Ibid. The Minnesota Constitution positively forbids the selection to courts of general jurisdiction of judges who are impartial in the sense of having no views on the law. Minn. Const., Art. VI, §5 (“Judges of the supreme court, the court of appeals and the district court shall be learned in the law”). And since avoiding judicial preconceptions on legal issues is neither possible nor desirable, pretending otherwise by attempting to preserve the “appearance” of that type of impartiality can hardly be a compelling state interest either. ..."

This case was brought by the Republican party against the state of Minnesota to ensure that their judicial nominees in that state had a right to air their views prior to appointment. They took their case all the way to the top, where it was decided in their favor, in an opinion written by Scalia.

In refutation of remarks made by previous speakers, she said that certain nominees were questioned hardly at all because their opinions were well known. Furthermore, that such candidates tended to fall in the center of the spectrum, not being particularly far from the mainstream. She held that this was a desirable quality in judicial candidates, and that the only reason she could think of for a candidate refusing to share their views was that they were so far outside the mainstream that moderate senators would have a hard time explaining such a vote to constituents.

Sen. Jim Talent (R-MI) also seems to be enamored of the Washington Post, though he did not repeat Sen. Bennett's song-and-dance about it being a liberal paper. They had surely coordinated their remarks, as Sen. Bennett reserved floor time for him in his absence in favor of a Democrat who had reserved a speaking time the day before. Sen. Dole, acting as president of the senate, did not object. Senator Talent read a great deal of this Washington Post editorial, Just Vote, into the record.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) had remarks which could be tidily summed up as follows: Estrada has written few articles, has made no public decisions, and the Senate has been unable to see any legal papers which he has prepared. It was Durbin's point that while candidates were sometimes nominated and confirmed who had no judicial experience, these candidates often had a public body of work which allowed senators to review their opinions, and therefore make an informed decision.

(And that's all I felt like listening to. Between school and the news habit, if some years from now you see a crazed wanderer with a pad of paper furiously taking notes on everything that happens, it will be me.)

Also, I wrote a bit ago about all the groups who oppose Mr. Estrada. But who supports him? How about Concerned Women for America, the Christian Coalition, the National Right To Life Committee, and the Family Research Council, just to name a few. For another ringing endorsement, try the Christian Broadcasting Network's take on the matter. They view it as an absolute positive that, having been neither a professor or a judge, Estrada has no paper trail.

Could it just possibly be that all of these far right organizations who enthuse over Mr. Estrada know something that has not been divulged to the Senate? Something perhaps, as Senator Clinton suggested, that would make Republican moderates concerned about taking a vote to confirm home to their constituents?

posted by Natasha at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK |

Iran believes their region can't take another war, and they are no friends of Hussein. They also happen to live right next door, and while that might normally qualify them to have an opinion, a bunch of people who live thousands of miles away think they know better. Also, Kurdish members of the Iranian parliament have voiced concern over Turkish occupation of northern Iraq, something which their government has not yet said much about.

Iran will be launching an Arabic news network to try and compete with Al-Jazeera, and whatever ham-handed publicity machine that our government comes up with.

posted by Natasha at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

TalkLeft tells us that in this era of national security concerns regarding the possibility of hijackers and terrorists in our midst, Ashcroft's Justice Department is very worried about the sale of bongs and miniature spoons over the internet. Bin Laden must be quaking in his boots.

Steve Soto, an occasional guest poster at Daily Kos, has his own blog now: The Left Coaster. This post regarding Dick Cheney, North Korea, and Halliburton leads me to believe that this will be a site to watch.

Digby finds an appropriate quote from The Godfather to wash down the news that war is now inevitable. He also points us to an excellent rant by South Knox Bubba about relevancy, history, and the Bushies.

Ampersand talks about whether Palestinian culture is misogynistic.

WampumBlog posts a letter from her SO, who is pondering going to the airport in speedos to avoid being mauled by over-enthusiastic security personnel. Below that... fuel prices going through the roof, and commentary on presidential bucks.

The Rittenhouse Review ponders the ways in which blogging has taken over his mind. As someone who roused yesterday from a couch catnap with the SO to frantically scribble down something they were saying on CSPAN, and then go back to napping, just so I could blog about it later... well, Mr. Capozzola really captured the tone of the obsession. I wonder if next time the patent on Prozac is about to expire, Eli Lilly will invent a new category of psychiatric disorder having to do with blogging, which can only be effectively treated by a rebranded version of fluoxetine. Maybe they'll call it... Sereblog.

posted by Natasha at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK |

Monday, February 24, 2003  

Roving about:

Why globalization is dying: Morons and Oxymorons.

Fleischer at press: "'s important, despite the difficulties that have been made and the relations between the United States and France on this issue to always remember that France is on our side. ..."

Bush Gives You The Finger, by Morford.

Convince the public? Blair hasn't even convinced the British military and intelligence services.

Henry Liu takes on Friedman's analysis that China should support us for its own good.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), representing 114 countries and half the world's population would like to 'respectfully disagree' with Bush's position on Iraq, though their situations vary widely, and are considering a Tobin-style tax on capital flows through their economies. Here's more about the statement on Iraq released by the summit.

Mother Jones declares it's been a good week for war. A number of interesting links are included with the piece.

Lula tries to reform Brazil, the world's ninth largest economy, and a home of grinding poverty and inequality.

posted by Natasha at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

Body and Soul reminds us of this funky little place called Afghanistan. (After you're done reading that, as usual, scroll up or down for more good posts.) The Upper Left Coast Review is furious about the utter lack of commitment to rebuilding that country.

After gaping slack-jawed at the screen for a good few seconds, I'm now sufficiently recovered to link to this German magazine cover posted over at Eschaton. Just below that is a 1987 deja vu moment with George Bush Sr.

Uppity Negro brings us Said and Fisk on the war question, and asks us to mail condoms to the White House.

Daily Kos points out that the public isn't buying the War on Iraq = Decrease in Terror line of reasoning. Go us.

Mary at the Political State Report says that the worst of the Enron scandal is really starting to hit home with lawmakers both at the national level and in her home state of Oregon. Everybody laughed when they thought it was just those wacko Californians (who are almost as bad as the French, really) getting screwed. Well you know what? They kissed off the whole damn country. brings you the latest headlines from Stand Down, Back to Iraq, Daily Kos, The Agonist, Eschaton, Tacitus, and WarBlogging. Cool stuff.

TBogg finds a priceless quote from a co-producer of the Daily Show.

Electrolite finds an excellent article about introverts, which as he said, felt more or less like reading about myself. The money quote from the article: "Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts."

WarBlogging talks about a plan for democracy in Iraq.

Skippy discusses Bush's obsession.

Who's to blame for war? Stephen Charest says his dad and economics. (Or rather, his dad is to blame for his analysis. But doesn't it sound catchier the other way?)

posted by Natasha at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, February 23, 2003  

In the Guardian:

The genius of blogging.

On Colin Powell and the abuse of language. Language is ideally a tool for communicating more clearly. Anyone surprised that this administration has turned it into a meaningless jumble of charged symbolism just wasn't paying attention during the 2000 presidential race.

Pakistan's Islamist party will build a planned community to be a model of sharia law and packed with universities and schools for all ages. The country suffers from a dearth of education, and many people are jumping at the chance to buy up plots of land zoned for housing.

With the abduction of suspected CIA advisors in Colombia, the US is thinking about moving troops in to an area which is being savaged by both sides of a long running conflict. (This ZNet article gives additional background about the paramilitary vs. guerilla kill ratios, western media reporting of same, as well as mentioning the use of US troops to protect a private oil pipeline.)

Britons can expect to look forward to a Mediterranean climate, damaging freak weather events, poorer agricultural conditions, and many other goodies as global warming sets in faster than previously expected. A plan to get serious about renewable energy is expected to be announced.

Nick Cohen tries to convince us that war protestors are supporting both communism and bigotry, to which I shall give as much credence as I did to the piker who tried to convince me that I was some flavor of nazi because I support Planned Parenthood. He characterizes the marches as having been organized entirely by communists, people who are firm allies of radical islamists who are reported by him to have beliefs akin to the Taliban. Where have I heard these arguments before... oh yes, it was in the American press, and definitely made the warblogger rounds. But it's funny not only that these commentators persist in ignoring the fact that the vast majority of the anti-war movement has nothing to do with the people who 'seeded' the idea of the marches, but that they utterly dismiss as immoral the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' mindset. One which they are terribly lenient on when it comes to excusing the support of brutal dictators and death squads in the name of "stability." And will someone please dissuade Mr. Cohen of the fantasy that the US intends to democratize Iraq, or any other country at this time? The Bush administration seems barely able to put up with it in the US.

posted by Natasha at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK |