Sunday, June 18, 2006

Your most important job is what?

If, as he states during each of his press opportunities, whether in a surprise appearance in the Green Zone, or a not-so-sunny day in the Rose Garden, he thinks of his most important job as protecting Americans, why has so little been done over the past 5.5 years of Bush's presidency about North Korea?
While the US invaded a country--led by an undoubtedly evil dictator--on the pretense of destroying weapons of mass destruction that apparently no one with access to undoctored intelligence thought Iraq had, North Korea has gotten so far ahead with its own widely-publicized and acknowledged program that they are, even now as I type this, fueling an ICBM capable of reaching the United States.
Other than the presence of oil in one of these countries, the grudge that we held against Iraq both for the invasion of Kuwait and Saddam's funding of an attempt on the earlier President Bush, the hard-on neo-cons have had for Iraq for the last twenty years and the non-existent connection between secular Baathism and world-imamate al-Qaeda, what are the relevant policy differences that have led us to essentially ignore this threat (or, rather, to treat it diplomatically, where "diplomatically" means both refusing to talk to North Korea and not really bringing any significant pressure to bear)?
Unfortunately, I don't know what we can do about North Korea. Kim is insane, the government is willing to starve its people for military spending, the country is already a pariah, there is little that we can imagine that sanctions would achieve. But at the same time, it seems that our government has thrown a lot of money and resources (though not planning) at a country that was, at best, a distant threat, while ignoring a very real and immediate danger, a North Korea with ballistic missiles.
So, if you really think your most important job is protecting Americans, you aren't even living up to your own standards, President Bush.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Knock, knock: Whoops, we're already in.

So, apparently, according to Tony Scalia--insert relevant expletive here--and four of his buddies on the Supreme Court, it is too much to ask that police with search warrants knock and wait 15-20 seconds before breaking down the doors of the homes they are permitted to search. You see, the Constitution (Amendment IV) has been interpreted since the beginning of the Republic as guaranteeing that police who are executing such warrants knock and announce themselves; i.e., a search warrant is a warrant to search, not to break in and ransack, otherwise we could not, as the Amendment promises, be secure in our property and houses. And, since laws without penalties aren't really laws at all, the courts have interpreted this to mean that if the police don't announce themselves and don't give people a chance to come to the door, they can't use the evidence they obtain. If the police violate my rights, in other words, it becomes harder for them to make their case.
In a majority decision today, Scalia (writing for four of the majority--Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion) stated that, since the police forces are much more professionalized than they were in the past, it just isn't fair to throw out this evidence when they forget to knock or announce themselves. Make sure you understand the logic--because the police are more professional than they were in the past, we should not penalize them at all for when they act unprofessionally. He, of course, did not deny the constitutional principle that the police must knock and announce themselves, he simply stated that there is no reason to impose any penalty when they fail to do so.
Imagine that you are a police officer executing a warrant on a suspected drug house. If you are also a rational police officer you are probably going to suspect that if you announce yourself, the residents of the house will try to destroy evidence. Now you know that there will be no penalty for not announcing yourself. Will you ever knock?
If the so-called originalists don't even care about the rights that have always been found in the Constitution, where are we headed? And, this is the Court we are stuck with for some time to come.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Let us all praise rotund men

Kudos to former Secretary of Education, Drug Czar and American Idol hopeful, Bill Bennett on his unaccustomed restraint while appearing on The Daily Show June 6th. Bennett was there to promote his new book America: The Last Best Hope.
Given the book’s discussion of freedom and Bennett’s role opposite Andrew Sullivan (in a buddy comedy yet to be named) in the original hearings about the Defense of Marriage Act, Jon Stewart took the discussion immediately to the Federal Marriage Amendment. Bennett grabbed for that old chestnut, the slippery slope if we let the gays marry what next? But, to his credit, Bennett did not take the argument to bestiality as he has been wont to do in the past, but merely went to polygamy. It was almost as if a reasonable discussion were taking place. He was even willing to admit that family relations, for instance in the case of Dick Cheney, might soften even a social conservative’s view of the matter.
The only sad aspect of the exchange: one must watch either fake news or public broadcasting to see reasoned discussion of national issues.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Protecting the national identity

According to the New York Times, there is a movement afoot among residents of Maine of French descent to regain their heritage. Members of the legislature occasionally hold discussions in (Acadian) French, various citizens say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem in French. Clearly, insofar as we have an obligation to protect a certain image of the national identity, in this, a midterm election year, something must be done about this. I'm not sure what, perhaps a fence on the Maine border?

Friday, June 02, 2006

We're always here for you, GW!

June 2, 2006

Bush Backs Amendment Banning Gay Marriage


Filed at 10:48 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush will promote a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on Monday, the eve of a scheduled Senate vote on the cause that is dear to his conservative backers.

The amendment would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages. To become law, the proposal would need two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.

It stands little chance of passing the 100-member Senate, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes. Several Republicans oppose the measure, and so far only one Democrat -- Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- says he will vote for it.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment on May 18 along party lines after a shouting match between a Democrat and the chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. He bid Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., ''good riddance'' after Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment and his intention to leave the meeting.

Bush aides said he would be making his remarks on the subject Monday.

A slim majority of Americans oppose gay marriage, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press from March. But the poll also showed attitudes are changing: 63 percent opposed gay marriage in February 2004.

Those poll results don't reflect how people might feel about amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court decided to legalize such marriages in 2003. A year later, San Francisco issued thousands of marriage licenses to gay couples.

This November, initiatives banning same-sex marriages are expected to be on the ballot in Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. In 2004, 13 states approved initiatives prohibiting gay marriage or civil unions, with 11 states casting votes on Election Day.

Bush benefited as religious conservatives turned out to vote and helped him defeat Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004. In Ohio, an initiative rejecting the legality of civil unions won handily. The same state tipped the election to Bush.

''The president firmly believes that marriage is an enduring and sacred institution between men and women and has supported measures to protect the sanctity of marriage,'' White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.

Bush has lost support among conservatives who blame the White House and Congress for runaway government spending, illegal immigration and lack of action on social issues such as the gay marriage amendment.

Opponents of the amendment objected to Bush promoting a measure they said amounts to discrimination.

''This is fundamentally both a civil rights and religious freedom issue and the president's position of supporting amending the constitution is just dead wrong,'' said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. ''This is simply to give ammunition to the so-called religious right just to show that the president is still with them.''

It's good to know that when push comes to shove, when the new Iraqi government is claiming (correctly or not) that Iraqi civilians are being killed every day by American soldiers in the light of two sets of killings under investigation (in Haditha and Ishaqi) even as the insurgency gets stronger in Sunni-dominated areas, when Iran shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear ambitions, when the President and the Prime Minister of Palestine are at war over who controls the security forces, when we are hitting the 25th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic with no end in sight in spite of the best abstinence-only efforts, when the NSA is data-mining the nation's phone records, when job growth is slowing and the market is nose-diving because of worries about inflation, when half the nation is up in arms about our "broken" immigration, (not to mention when Taylor Hicks won American Idol) good old Bushie has the gays to rely on: all he has to do is stand up for marriage and against those nefarious sodomites and everything will be okay!

Surely, my partner and I are one face of the biggest problem facing America, nay!, the world.