The Last Few Days

Events in Washington the past few days:

1) Rookie Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Clermont County Ohio, claimed in her very first speech on the House Floor, “I pledge to . . . refrain from name-calling or the questioning of character. Harsh words often lead to headlines, but walking this path is not a victimless crime. This great House pays the price.” But as we know, hypocrisy is so ingrained in the GOP these days, it only took a couple short months before she was on the House Floor essentially calling Rep. John Murtha, a veteran of two wars and decorated Marine, a “coward.” According to Schmidt, she was only the messenger, the original message having originated from a Marine colonel in her district who supposedly asked her to “send Congressman Murtha a message — that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” Needless to say, since the incident caused more of an uproar than Schmidt evidently imagined, she apologized to Murtha (an apology which he accepted) and has now gone AWOL according to the Cincinnati Post. That article also mentions the “represented Marine” by name, and quotes him as saying that Schmidt took him out of context.

2) Whilst listening to Rush Limbaugh the other day (I was happily bored and needed to raise my blood pressure), I was rather interested that he and his callers were talking about the Murtha event, and how the Iraqis supposedly don’t want us to leave. Someone called up and said when he was over there and there was talk about Americans leaving the country, all the Iraqis had “tears in their eyes” at the thought of us leaving. Huh?? And Rush agreed, saying there was no evidence that they wanted us to leave, and all the polls were wrong. Interestingly enough, the very next day, Iraqi leaders made it very clear they wanted us to leave, stating that Iraq’s opposition “had a legitimate right” of resistance. So much for those tears, eh Rushbo?

3) Buzzflash has a huge headline today referencing an article in the National Journal. The Bush administration is evidently not releasing its September 21st, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, although the administration acknowledges that one does exist. The content reportedly contained wording that stated the “U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.” According to the National Journal article, “Much of the contents of the September 21 PDB were later incorporated, albeit in a slightly different form, into a lengthier CIA analysis examining not only Al Qaeda’s contacts with Iraq, but also Iraq’s support for international terrorism.” This CIA document was given to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and several other high-level officials in the White House (including Condaleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld). If this document is eventually turned over, and it contains what is alleged here, it would obviously mean that not only was Bush lying about the reasons we went to war, but he also lied about lying about it. What a surprise. The article also lays out a case that Cheney had been briefed on the correctness or incorrectness of statements he was making regarding the Iraq-Qaeda connection, but that he continued to make incorrect statements to push the case for removing Saddam from power.

4) According to USA Today, 6644 people are still missing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with approximately 1300 dead, and 301 of those still unidentified. One wonders how much more the death toll will rise from that 1300 figure, and how many might have been saved had the Bush administration put responsible people in critical government posts instead of putting cronies in there as a reward.

5) And finally, would you like to know just how bad the Bush presidency has been for the Unites States? A piece on pulls out the charts: did the Bush tax cuts create jobs? (no); did they also cut the budget deficit in half as Bush promised? (no); did he make health insurance more affordable, as he had promised to? (no). Is there anything this administration can point to as a success? (only if you count “quickest national decline of every statistical mark available”)…

The Bees Nest

I was on another deadline last night, so I didn’t get to read the news or listen to Air America yesterday. This morning I got an e-mail from my dad saying someone kicked the bees nest in Washington. About the same time, my wife called from the living room asking if I had heard what Pennsylvania Rep John Murtha (Democrat) had said at his news conference yesterday.

But before I get to that, which you’ve probably already heard about anyway, it’s worthy to note that the Bush administration has been “striking back’ at all the criticism about the war from Democrats, beginning on Veterans Day, when Bush went to Murtha’s state and spoke the following words to veterans:

“While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began… These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will.”

Later on, he said that Democrats that “voted for the war” would now like to rewrite history as well. So I thought I’d go back and take one more look at that “vote for the war,” which I had, somewhat ignorantly I guess, rewritten in my head as an authorization to use force, not really a “vote for war.”

The resolution can be read here, from the White House website, but the important parts are these. Following a bunch of “whereas…” statements comes the real meat of the resolution. I have edited it down, but again, if you question my “context,” you can read the whole resolution at the link above.

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002′.

SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS. The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to–

  1. strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and
  2. obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.


  1. AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to–
    1. defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
    2. enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
  2. PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that–
    1. reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
    2. acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
    1. SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
    2. APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

The remainder of the resolution deals with reports that the president must give to Congress.

So it seems as with all things regarding this administration, it interprets these things as it sees fit. While some of us sussed Bush up from day one, it would appear at least half of our fellow Americans could not, and thus might have taken Bush at face value when he went to Congress and said he needed authorization to give teeth to the previous resolutions — that now Saddam would know that if he didn’t get his shit together, didn’t let the UN inspectors have unfettered access to EVERYTHING, that the US military would be on Iraq’s doorstep.

According to this article in CNN, some Senators believed that this resolution was too broad and premature. Senator Robert Byrd, in particular, noted that this resolution amounted to a “blank check.” Just looking at the wording above, I’d have to agree. In the hands of an honorable administration, the resolution would, indeed, seem to give teeth to UN resolutions that had previously gone unenforced, and give a “final notice” to Saddam’s administration that they better let the inspectors back in, or there would be trouble. In the hands of an irresponsible administration however, the wording would seem to indicate that all a warmongering president would have to do to go in with guns blazing is claim that continuing inspections “will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

Of course, we all know what happened, but it bears going over for the record.

While Iraq had previously hindered the ability of Unscom inspectors to perform their duties — an act which subsequently triggered a substantial bombing campaign by the US and Britain in 1998 — as of March 2002, Iraq began once again to negotiate with the UN to resume inspections, although it did not allow inspectors to enter the country until September 16, 2002, when Iraq agreed to allow inspectors to return “without conditions,” according to a report at According to this website, on March 7, 2003:

UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix tells the Security Council that Iraq’s cooperation with the inspectors in providing information about past weapons activities has improved, although Baghdad has not yet complied with its disarmament obligations. UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors had stated during briefings to the Security Council on January 27 and February 14 that Iraq was gradually increasing its cooperation with the United Nations. Yet, both deemed the cooperation insufficient.

Following this report by Hans Blix, the US, UK and Spain attempted to draft another resolution calling for military action if Iraq didn’t comply with complete disarmament by March 17th. Despite wooing by the Bush administration, support for the resolution failed, and when it became clear that the votes weren’t on Bush’s side, that the world was not yet ready to specifically vote for a war against Iraq, the United States (in the form of the Bush administration) did what any warmongering administration would do — they decided not to bring the new resolution to a vote, and decided that the original resolution — this “blank check” — was enough to allow for the immediate withdrawal of UN inspectors from Iraq, and to allow for the immediate invasion of a soverign nation, one that while not incredibly cooperative with UN inspectors, was allowing them unrestricted access nonetheless.

But for good measure, and to ensure that he’d be able to say that it was Saddam’s own fault that his country was invaded, Bush gave Saddam and his sons an ultimatum before the US would attack — leave Iraq now, or face our wrath. Saddam did not leave, the US “Coalition” forces invaded.

The “blank check” had been written for $500-600 billion dollars, 2000 or more US soldiers lives, the mental or physical wounding of 20,000 US soldiers, and the killing of over 30,000 Iraqi civilians.

So was the resolution a “vote for war?” For those Senators and Congressional representatives that signed the resolution, I would say no, that there was every reason to expect that this was merely a step to put some backing behind the UN resolutions. Why else would there be no support for the second resolution?

But fast forward to this week, and Bush’s speech in front of the Veterans of the United States, where he claimed that Democrats are trying to re-write history. The rallying cry continued on Wednesday, when Dick Cheney spoke in front of a conservative “think tank,” the Frontiers of Freedom. According to this article on CNN, Cheney blasted Democrats for claiming that he and the president misled the country into war. Among his comments:

The suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.”
“What we’re hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war,” Cheney said. “The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out.”
“The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone. But we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history. We’re going to continue throwing their own words back at them.”

Fast forward to this morning, when my wife called to me asking if I had heard what Rep. John Murtha had said yesterday. I checked online, and watched his news conference, which you can see here. What I saw was a Democrat talking to the people like a human being, in very plain speech — not posing for the cameras, not monitoring his every spoken word for what could someday be used against him. What I saw was someone finally speaking up and saying what more than half the country is feeling right now — enough is enough. This is bullshit, and it needs to stop. You can read the transcript here. What America saw yesterday at that news conference was an ex-Marine and Vietnam Veteran who is in constant contact with military families. It’s all well and good for the Bush administration to say, “Democrats are emboldening the enemy and demoralizing the troops,” but how do they know? Are Bush and Cheney talking to our troops day in and day out to see how they’re feeling? Murtha has, and he said the following: “I’ve been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed, as some of you know, almost every week since the beginning of the war. And what demoralizes them is not the criticism; what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace. The devastation caused by IEDs is what they’re concerned about, being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes — and you’ve seen these stories about some of the people’s whose homes were destroyed, and they were deployed to Iraq after it — being on their second or third deployment, leaving their families behind without a network of support.”

But that wasn’t all that Rep. Murtha talked about. He also spoke about the cost of the war in terms of dollars.

Our deficit is growing out of control. The director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being terrified about the deficit in the coming decades. In other words, where’s the money going to come from for defense?
I voted against every tax cut — every tax cut I voted against. My wife says, “You shouldn’t say that.” I believe that when we voted for these tax cuts, you can’t have a war, you can’t have a tragedy like we had, the hurricanes, and then not have a huge deficit, which is going to increase interest rates and could cause real problems. This is the first prolonged war we’ve ever fought with three years of tax cuts without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. On the college campuses they always ask me about a draft: You’re for a draft. I say yeah, there’s only two of us voted for it, so you don’t have to worry too much about it.”

And about the notion that Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction from oil revenue?

I just recently visited Anbar province in Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. And last May — last May — we put in the emergency supplemental spending bill — Moran amendment — which was accepted in conference, which required the secretary of Defense to submit a quarterly report about the — and accurately measure the stability and security in Iraq. Now — we’ve now received two reports. So I’ve just come back from Iraq, and I looked at the next report. I’m disturbed by the findings in the key indicator areas.
Oil production and energy production are below prewar level. You remember they said that was going to pay for the war, and it’s proved to (be) below prewar level. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by security situations. Only $9 billion of $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. And I said on the floor of the House, when they passed the $87 billion, the $18 billion was the most important part of it because you got to get people back to work, you got to get electricity, you got to get water! Unemployment is 60 percent. Now, they tell you in the United States it’s less than that, so it may be 40 percent. But in Iraq, they told me it’s 60 percent when I was there. Clean water is scarce, and they only spent $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects.

Massive bungling. And already the White House is reacting. Murtha has a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts from the Vietnam War. That doesn’t mean much to the Neo-Cons who claimed that Kerry got his from a “scratch,” I guess. In a statement after the press conference, White House Press Secretary released a statement that read, “Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled — nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.”
Perhaps anticipating the White House’s smearing as a response to his charges, a reporter asked Murtha, “The president and the vice president are both saying it is now irresponsible for Democrats to criticize the war and to criticize the intelligence going into the war because everybody was looking at the same intelligence.” Murtha essentially said, “Bring it on.”

I like guys who’ve never been there that criticize us who’ve been there,” Murtha said. “I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done. This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion! The American public knows it. And lashing out at critics doesn’t help a bit. You got to change the policy. That’s what’s going to help with the American people. We need to change direction. The troops — what hurts the troops are the things that I listed before.

Plain speech, spoken from the heart. That is not only the key to winning back the world, but winning back this country. That is the key to getting our troops out of harms way.

But it’s not going to be easy. There are criminals in the White House who won’t leave without a fight. But the stories are finally coming out. Just today, ex-CIA chief Stansfield Turner declared Dick Cheney as a “vice-president for torture” in reference to Cheney’s refusal to back John McCain’s legislation forbidding torture by US officials. Cheney has lobbied against the legislation, and a statement from his office noted that the United States “does not torture.” It also said that “Our country is at war, and our government has an obligation to protect the American people from a brutal enemy that has declared war upon us.” Cheney wants an exception in the legislation for CIA officers who are interrogating prisoners who might have “knowledge of an imminent attack.” Lovely, eh? So basically, it’s OK to torture people if you think they have information about an attack. How do you know until you torture them? Beats me. I would imagine if you’re tortured you’ll eventually tell the CIA anything it wants to hear, right?


The end of the insanity is nearer and nearer each day, thanks to the bravery of people like John Murtha, who aren’t afraid to speak out, who aren’t afraid of this administration’s intimidation. And when the Senate and House are controlled once again by Democrats in 2006 (2007), the bees nest is sure to be kicked a bit more. Who knows what will emerge? Only Bush and his cronies.

No Good Answer

Howard Dean on Meet The Press, when asked by Tim Russert why the Democrats have no coherent plan, no solid alternative to the Republican agenda, essentially said that since the Democrats have not been in power, there hasn’t been the ability to draft any solid plan — that they haven’t had to do this because they couldn’t control anything.

That’s just not good enough. At the very least, the Democrats need to come up with several counterpoints to the Republican agenda — several big ideas that Democrats believe in and will work toward achieving if they are placed in power. It isn’t enough for them to ask us to elect them so that once they’re in power they can figure out what it is they need to do to turn this country around.

We need — at the very least — a few compelling reasons, some stark differentiation between them and the Republican Party, to rally the troops and get them excited about electing Democrats. There is a need to be bold with these ideas, to be optimistic. There is also a need to be honest and to not appear to be poll-driven.

A majority of Americans are still pro-choice. As Democrats, we should be proud to stand up and claim that the government has no right to intrude into people’s private lives, but that it is our obligation to make sure that abortion remains RARE, SAFE and LEGAL. That is a perfectly acceptable position for Democrats to take. In addition, the Democratic Party was once a party against Capital Punishment. In the South, a Democratic candidate won on a platform of opposition to the death penalty because he stated quite clearly that it was against his religious beliefs to execute ANYONE — that all life is sacred. Can we, as Democrats, not say the same? Is that really not showing the utmost respect for life?

There are certain party principles that need to be restated. Many Republicans are pro-choice, yet the party platform does not keep those people from voting Republican. Many Republicans are against the death penalty, yet that does not stop them from voting Republican. Why do we think that people will abandon the party as a whole if we strongly say, “we believe in a woman’s right to choose, but that abortion should be rare, safe, and legal… we believe that we should join the other civilized countries around the globe that respect life enough to end the execution of their own citizens, for any reason.”

But it’s not just the party platform that needs to be reinstated. The Democrats need some big ideas. I have a couple of my own.

1) By the year 2025, we will completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. This will not only be ecologically beneficial, but also will be extremely valuable from a national security standpoint. We will no longer be able to be held over a barrel, so to speak, over the price of oil, or the whims of dictators in the Middle East. Check out and you will see that renewable fuels made from corn are not only available in many locations across the United States, but that they reduce carbon emissions, provide employment for US farmers, and that there are already many automobiles that are ready RIGHT NOW to use “flexible fuels” in any combination of gasoline and ethanol. If you’re not near an ethanol station, you can use gasoline. You can mix the two. In addition, bio-diesel is becoming a real alternative. Made from soybeans, bio-diesel is another renewable fuel that can be used for heating in oil burners. In fact, Long Island has mandated that a certain amount of bio-diesel be used for a recurring dredging project out east that is slated to be performed every 3-5 years.

Could this happen by 2025? I don’t know. But if you don’t set the goal, you won’t even get close. Ethanol is already available across the US. Cars and trucks are already available with Flexible-Fuel engines. Bio-diesel is available. Isn’t 20 years enough lead time for domestic automobile manufacturers? And certainly, foreign automobile manufacturers will not be able to ignore a US market eager for such vehicles as well.

Kennedy set a timetable of less than ten years to reach the moon. Was that less difficult than eliminating our need for foreign oil in twenty years?

2) Government-sponsored health care insurance for anyone under 18. There is NO REASON that this supposedly civilized country should be allowing ANY children to live without health care. This is a moral value. If we can find $500 billion for an elective war in Iraq, we can find the money for this. Some things you just cannot negotiate. You just say, “we need to do this, we will find the money.” No child should ever be refused medical care because of a lack of money. It just shouldn’t happen. Ever.

3) Reform the election system. I, and many of my peers, have been completely disillusioned with the state of the national election system, and the recent criminal redistricting at the local level have led to the ability of one party to stay in power. A TRULY bi-partisan panel needs to sit down and devise a new, fair, playing field. Votes should never be able to be tampered with or interpreted differently. People need to win or lose on their personal integrity, agenda, and campaigns. No more dirty tricks. While I’m not naive enough to believe that we can eliminate all corruption from the voting system, we need to be able to assure ALL citizens of the transparency of the process. If this means a national election system, or federal rules on election methods, we need to do this. It’s important that we know that our leaders were duly elected. There needs to be no room for interpretation. No mixed rules. No more Supreme Court intervention in the election process.

So there are three starters for you, Dr. Dean. Please get back to me and let me know when we can get to work on passing these out to the candidates.

The White House and Re-writing History

This is too precious. We all know how Scott McClellan has been stonewalling the press corps in his daily briefings, claiming that he’d “just love to talk about the Plame case,” but that he’s not able to because the ongoing investigation should be allowed to run its course. Just go to The White House Homepage and click on Daily Briefings and look at any of the briefings of the last few months. There you’ll see good ol’ Scott not answering any real questions — nothing about how Bush said he’d fire anyone who leaked the information, nothing about whether or not Rove is worthy of having clearance for sensitive information, etc.

Well, it appears Scott messed up and told the truth for once, and the White House would like him to take it back, according to this article in Salon. We can’t have the White House Press Secretary telling the truth now, can we? So what happened?

The thorn in McClellan’s side, David Gregory, noted the following:

“Whether there’s a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement,” Gregory said. “We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.”

To this, according to several sources (including the videotape), McClellan responded, “That’s accurate.” But if you look at the White House transcript, he says, “I don’t think that’s accurate.”

According to the Salon article, the White House has also requested that several sources that reprint the press conference transcripts also change their versions of McClellan’s response.

What is interesting though, is Gregory’s next question: “So aside from the question of legality here, you were wrong, weren’t you?”

It’s interesting because Gregory’s response makes much more sense in the context of responding to an interjection of “that’s accurate,” than it does to “I don’t think that’s accurate.” One would think that Gregory would have a more argumentative response had McClellan claimed that Gregory’s statement was not accurate.

It just amazes me how these right-wing Neo Cons think that this stuff isn’t being recorded, is not capable of being reviewed once it’s said. What’s more amazing is that the White House continues to make Scott McClellan go out to the podium and defend this crap, and when he doesn’t, they just change the transcript to put whatever words into his mouth that they wish. If Scott really had any personal integrity, he’d resign immediately. But then again, at this point, who would trust him enough to hire him?

Dems Win Big on Long Island

Damn, but if it isn’t just a wonderful feeling when the GOP is, to quote a phrase borrowed from Channel 12 news last Tuesday night, “in shock.”

From today’s Newsday:

The Democrats’ dramatic gains in Tuesday’s election signal the end of decades of Republican domination of Long Island politics, experts in both parties say.

“The days of monolithic Republican control are over,” said John V.N. Klein, a former GOP Suffolk County Executive. “In the past when this kind of thing happened, I’d say give it a couple of elections and we’ll be back in charge again. We can’t count on that anymore.”

The days of monolithic Republican control are over.

My local township, Brookhaven (also known informally as “Crookhaven”), has been controlled by Republicans for the last three or four decades. On Tuesday night, Democrat Brian Foley won the Brookhaven Supervisor seat, and Democrats took control of the county legislature. The Nassau County District Attorney seat was unexpectedly taken over, by Democrat Kathleen Rice against incumbent Denis Dillon, Republican. Rice campaigned hard for a woman’s right to choose, proving that even in a hotbed of Republican “moral values,” enough people still believe that “rare, safe, and legal” is the best way to tackle the issue of unwanted pregnancy.

If politics is local, the Republicans are in for a rude awakening next November.

In California, even the Governator himself, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is having a harder time than he ever could’ve imagined. As reported in today’s International Herald Tribune, the public responded to his four ballot initiatives (to which he devoted a substancial amount of his personal fortune), “no, no, no, and no.” More from the article:

His personal popularity, which a year ago was at nearly 70 percent, has dropped to the mid-30s – and with it his ability to threaten recalcitrant Democratic lawmakers by going over their heads to hold a public vote on proposals concerning teacher tenure, union political spending, state budget rules and legislative redistricting.

The movie-star-turned-governor had promised that Tuesday would be “Judgment Day” for his opponents. Instead, it was Schwarzenegger who was weighed in the balance and found wanting, suddenly at a crossroads in his brief political career.

The days of Republican rule are ending. Not soon enough. Every time they get in power, they destroy things, and then it takes a decade or more for the Democrats to clean up after them. It’s a shame we can’t just continue to move forward all the time instead of taking one step back for every two steps forward.

Legislating from the Bench

You’ll hear that phrase a lot on right-wing talk radio — “Legislating from the Bench.” Neo-cons supposedly don’t like it when judges decide to take the Constitution of the United States into their own hands and interpret it to serve their own means. That is, except when it benefits one of them (please reference Bush v. Gore, December 12, 2000, when the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision that noted, “…none stand more in admiration of the Constitution?s design to leave the selection of the President to the people, …however, it becomes our unsought responsibility to resolve the federal and constitutional issues the judicial system has been forced to confront.” [emphasis mine]).

So if the Neo-Cons really value true constructionist principles, they surely cannot stand behind someone like recent Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, who scripted a highly controversial dissent which blasted the federal law prohibiting the sale and ownership of machine guns. According to an article in, Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn noted on this week’s “Meet The Press” that

“I don’t think a judge has the right to make that decision,” Coburn said. “I think Congress — and that brings us back to the whole point. Those aren’t decisions judges should be making. Those are decisions that legislators should be making. And that’s how we’ve gotten off on this track is, that we allow judges to start deciding the law, new law, rather than interpret the law that the Congress — what the — what should have happened in that case is this [is] an area that’s up for debate and needs to go back to Congress. If Congress decides that, then it should be there.”

The article also notes that “like every appellate court that had addressed the issue, [Coburn] said that Alito’s view was wrong.”

So if Alito is willing to creatively interpret the law here, who knows what he’ll do with the Constitution? Well, my guess is that if he’s confirmed, he’ll be just another Neo-Con activist judge, creatively interpreting the law to turn back time whenever he can.