Saturday, December 17, 2005

burrying the lede

I will admit, I am a dork. I TiVoed Washington Week because I was out at a law school Christmas party and when I watched it this morning, I was aghast (but not all that surprised) that they chose the Iraqi elections as the lede and talked about Bush personally authorizing NSA easedroppings on American citizens as part of the "Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, are staking out their independence of Bush" meme.

Incredible. Here we have a president flagrantly violating the constitution and all they do is show a clip of Bush talking to Jim Lehrer about how he believes in his heart that it is important to the war on terrorism. So? It would be really helpful to pull people off the streets who we have some information that they might be drug dealers to the War on Drugs, but we don't do that, because we need a warrant first. Or, there are plenty of exigent circumstances were you don't even need a warrant...but 4th Amendment be damned, Bush doesn't even bother.

It would be one thing if the congress went along with it, like the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, but here only a few members of Congress signed off on it. Who? The Chairs of the Intelligence Committees? The ranking members too? The entire committtee? The House and Senate Leadership? Who are they to speak for congress on such a vital issue of constitutional law? A handfull of congresscritters in a room does not a qurom make.

I hope historians look back on 2005 and say this was the year that turned the tide, when Americans woke up started demanding a more accountable President, a more responsive, powerful Congress, a solution for Iraq, an end to corruption and cronyism. In 2006, this feeling may help Democrats regain Congress, but it will ultimately help America. Democrats deserved to be kicked out of power in 1994, many who were thrown out were arrogant, out of touch, and corrupt. Some good ones were lost, and some terrible ones held on because of their position and incredibly favorable district. But one gets the feeling that it is 1994 all over again 12 years later. I just hope if Democrats regain control of the chambers that they won't succumb to the lure of power as much or as quickly as Republicans did.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

middle east musings

The first thing that set me off to write today was idiotic statement Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said that 1) the holocaust was a "fairy tale" and 2) that Israel should pick up and move to Europe or North America. Let's deal with them one at at time shall we? Gen. Eisenhower specifically visited and recorded his visits to consentrations camps because he wanted to make sure the world never forgot and never pertended that 6 million jews just dissipeared. Does Ahmadinejad really need a tour of Dachau and the rooms of shoes, suitcases, and the like? Does he need to go see the ovens, and the bones that are still inside? Does someone need to dig up the mass graves for him to peer into? How much more proof do you need? It would be a pretty amazing stunt to make 6 million people just vanish and have all this archival footage and consistant survivor/perpetrator memories and tatoos etc. and have the massacre not be true.

Maybe Ahmadinejad can't stand the idea of Jews outvictiming Muslims. Most middle east countries with muslim control maintains its power by using the plight of the palistians, and blaming everying on Western Imperalists. True, the British and French are to blame a lot that is wrong in the middle east, including putting the house of Suad in charge, and divving up borders to match up with oil pipeline routes, not ethnic or religious groups.

Secondly, Ahmadinejad is an idiot for saying if the US and EU "believe" in the holocaust so much, we should carve out turf for Israel given all the wrongs that the Germans "purportedly" did to the Jews. While 10 men and a torah equals a congration, a whole bunch of Jews in one spot doesn't equal Israel (it probabbly means Ghetto, notice you never hear of little Israel, but you hear of little Tokyo or Chinatown or little Italy). The idea of Israel is based on the land of Canaan itself. If you were to read almost any part of the Torah Ahmadinejad, you would see reference after reference to that piece of land.

The problem facing the land of Canaan is that both Jews and Palistians have pretty much equal right to be there. One can go back and say my people had it first, but how accurate are these records anyway, and should that really be the basis of a who gets to live where? Somehow both groups need to learn to live together. There isn't much mystery as to the best way to do it--all these peace plans are basically the sam e thing--it just take willingness to sacrifice on all parties the goal of getting it all. Ideally, the country would be one with islamic law and the talmud coexisting and some basic law that apply to both sets of peoples (and the various christians or others that choose to live there). Threatening one side with an atomic bomb will never win the debate.

And on to Lebanon, where moronic Syrian thugs again killed another prominant anti-Syrian politican. The predictible result: 300,000 Lebanese mourners marched through cities denouncing Syria. Just when things had died down and people were forgetting about Lebanon and Syria, Syria makes it worse by trying to rid itself of a foe. Meanwhile, even dumber neo-cons still think Syria is next on the list of nations to invade and occupy. Do they really have no clue how badly things have gone, how stretched US forces are, how little support they have with the American people (let alone the world)?

And finally, Iraq. Today the purple fingers return, and not much will really change. For all Bush's talk about how an artificial time table is bad for withdrawl, we already have one--the crazy election/constitution schedule. After a few months, Bush will claim victory/sucess and get out, say around September or October. Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders are purposely not adaquately arming or training their personel because they hope that will stall US troop withdrawl. Silly Talibani, Bush never really means what he says.

Today is my 700th post, wow, how times fly. On my way to work, I saw a man at a stoplight holding a sign saying "Why are you polluting the air?" and then flipped the sign to show the horrible air quality rating (106 particulates per whatever I think it said) of the Wasatsch Valley these past view days. The funny thing was, I hate driving. I had just dropped off my wife and was going to work via car only because I don't think I should have to take 2 bus lines that never match up in the cold (and on the way back, dark) to get from home to work. We choose where we lived so that we could be close to downtown and the University and I otherwise take public transit most days or walk. This guy picked the wrong motorist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

southern discomfort

sorry for the long no post period faithful readers. This weekend was one shopping bonanza after another. The Apple Store came to Salt Lake and my wife had her birthday on Monday. In between long errand runs, I have been working on a paper for Judge McConnell's course on the constitution 1793-1861.

The thesis I have come up with is that all these debates after the first few Congresses were little more than Kabuki theater to protect slavery. It is amazing the lengths to which smart men wasted their brains trying to come up with arguments and rationales for doing something that they belived would preserve their immoral and backwards system. Thousands and thousands of men lost their lives in the Civil War because of this as well.

It seems the U.S. has been placating southerns for quite some time. Our modern version of this is that presidents can't get elected unless they win southern states. Majority leaders in the Senate and House and President Bush all claim former slave states as their homes. How has the south been so sucessful in maintaining its disportionate dominance of the country since the birth of the nation? As big as Florida and Texas are, most of their growth is coming from Middle and South America, and not white flight.

Don't get me wrong, I have been to many parts of the South and have friends from places like Georgia and North Carolina and I like most of it. Heck, my parents in law live in Virginia. Yet I could never see myself living there. And it isn't just the weather that bothers me, no there is some general feeling that I don't belong there, even though I am a red head and from a state that sided with the Confederacy.