Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Saturday, 17 September 2005 at 14h 31m 50s|
The commerce clause
Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, known as the
Commerce Clause, empowers the United States Congress "To regulate Commerce
with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian
Courts and commentators have tended to discuss each of these three areas as a
separate power granted to Congress. It is therefore common to see references to
the Foreign Commerce Clause, the Interstate Commerce Clause, and the Indian
Commerce Clause, each of which refers to the power granted to Congress in this
The use of the Commerce Clause by Congress to justify its legislative power
over citizens has been the subject of long, intense political controversy.
Interpretation of the sixteen words of the Commerce Clause has helped define
the balance of power between the federal government and individual states. As
such, it has a direct impact on the lives of US citizens.
According to the Tenth Amendment, the federal government of the United States
only has the power to regulate matters specifically delegated to it by the
Constitution. Other powers are reserved to the States, or to the people. The
Commerce Clause is one of those few powers specifically delegated to the
federal government and thus its interpretation is very important in determining
the scope of federal legislative power.
Early years 1824-1935
In Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), Justice John Marshall ruled that the power to
regulate interstate commerce also included the power to regulate interstate
navigation: "Commerce, undoubtedly is traffic, but it is something more—it is
intercourse ... [A] power to regulate navigation is as expressly granted, as if
that term had been added to the word 'commerce' ... [T]he power of Congress
does not stop at the jurisdictional lines of the several states. It would be a
very useless power if it could not pass those lines."
In Swift v. United States (1905), the Court ruled that the clause covered
meatpackers; although their activity was geographically "local," they had an
important effect on the "current of commerce" and thus could be regulated under
the commerce curve. The Court's decision halted price fixing. Stafford v.
Wallace (1922) upheld a federal law regulating the Chicago meatpacking
industry, because the industry was part of the interstate commerce of beef from
ranchers to dinner tables. The stockyards "are but a throat through which the
current [of commerce] flows," Justice Taft wrote, referring to the stockyards
as "great national public utilities."
The clause was the subject of conflict between the U.S. Supreme Court and the
Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935-37 when the Court struck down
several of the President's "New Deal" measures on the grounds that they
encroached upon intrastate matters. After winning the 1936 election by a
landslide, FDR proposed a plan to appoint an additional justice for each
unretired Justice over 70. Given the age of the current justices this permitted
a court population of up to 15. Roosevelt claimed that this was not to change
the rulings of the Court, but to lessen the load on the older Justices, who he
claimed were slowing the Court down.
There was widespread opposition to this "court packing" plan, but in the end
the New Deal did not need it to succeed. In what became known as "the switch in
time that saved nine," Justice Owen Josephus Roberts and Chief Justice Charles
Evans Hughes switched sides in 1937 and upheld the National Labor Relations
Act, which gave the National Labor Relations Board extensive power over unions
across the country.
In 1941 the Court upheld the Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated the
production of goods shipped across state lines. In Wickard v. Filburn, (1942)
the Court upheld the Agricultural Adjustment Act, stating that the act of
growing wheat on one's own land, for one's own consumption, affected interstate
commerce, and therefore under the Commerce Clause was subject to federal
The wide interpretation of the scope of the commerce clause continued following
the passing of the Civil Rights Act, which aimed to prevent business from
discriminating against black customers. In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United
States (1964), the Court ruled that Congress could regulate a business that
served mostly interstate travelers; in Katzenbach v. McClung (1964) the Court
ruled that the government could regulate Ollie's Barbecue, which served mostly
local clientele but sold food that had previously moved across state lines; and
in Daniel v. Paul (1969), the Court ruled that the government could regulate a
recreational facility because three out of the four items sold at its snack bar
were purchased from outside the state.
The Rehnquist Court
In 1995, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, delivered the opinion of the Court
in United States v. Lopez (later clarified by United States v. Morrison).
There, the Court ruled that Congress only had the power to regulate:
the channels of commerce, the instrumentalities of commerce, and action that
substantially affects interstate commerce.
Thus the government did not have the power to regulate relatively unrelated
things such as the possession of firearms near schools, as in the Lopez case.
This was the first time in 60 years, since the conflict with President Franklin
Roosevelt in 1936-37, that the Court had overturned a putative regulation on
interstate commerce because it exceeded Congress's commerce power. Justice
Clarence Thomas argued that allowing Congress to regulate intrastate,
noncommercial activity under the Commerce Clause would confer on Congress a
general “police power” over the Nation.
The Court found in Seminole Tribe v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996) that, unlike
the Fourteenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause does not give the federal
government the power to abrogate the sovereign immunity of the states.
Many described the Rehnquist Court's commerce clause cases as a doctrine
of "new federalism". The outer limits of that doctrine were delineated by
Gonzales v. Raich (2005), in which Justices Scalia and Kennedy departed from
their previous positions as parts of the Lopez and Morrison majorities to
uphold a federal law regarding marijuana. The court found the federal law
valid, although the marijuana in question had been grown and consumed within a
single state, and had never entered interstate commerce.
You can visit here if you are interested in more details about the
landmark court cases surrounding the commerce clause in the US constitution.
|Friday, 16 September 2005 at 20h 8m 25s|
A cruel facade he calls leadership
This is from Brian Williams
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last
night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but
the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on
for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update
edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago
cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty,
roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit
no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more
than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area
was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make
some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.
|Friday, 16 September 2005 at 19h 44m 0s|
Your kidding, right?
This story came out the day before the "big speech" -- give me
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 - President Bush is to pledge in an address to the nation
from New Orleans on Thursday night that the federal government will provide
housing assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina and also help reimburse the
states for costs they have absorbed in taking in evacuees, a White House
official said Wednesday.
The commitments are part of a series of initiatives that the president is
expected to announce as he tries to recover from the political fallout over the
government's handling of the storm.
. . .
White House officials also played down the notion that Mr. Bush would offer
a "Marshall Plan" for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, as the Senate Republican
leadership called for in a letter to the president on Wednesday. "We stand
ready to work with you to lay out a comprehensive approach to the coordination
of relief and development efforts through a 'Marshall Plan' for the Gulf Coast
as soon as possible," said the letter, signed by Senator Bill Frist, the
majority leader, and others.
Instead, administration officials and a Republican close to the White House
said Mr. Bush would offer some general principles about "building a better New
Orleans" with stricter construction standards to try to avoid a replay of the
recent catastrophe. Republicans said Mr. Bush would not mention a price tag, in
large part because of budget and political pressures from House Republicans and
other supporters angry about administration spending.
Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr.
Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort,
which reaches across many agencies of government and includes the direct
involvement of Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development.
Who is in charge of the reconstruction effort ?
I'll let Ed Kilgore speak for me on this one.[SOURCE
After all, Karl Rove is (a) the man most responsible for the entire strategy of
partisan and ideological polarization that has poisoned the atmosphere of
American politics, and (b) a consistent practitioner of a form of politics that
relentlessly focuses on the conjunction of money, ideology, and (in his mind,
at least) purchasable voter blocs, and (c) the potential object of a federal
indictment for violating national security policies, and his own security
clearance, by "outing" an undercover CIA agent to punish her politically
|Tuesday, 13 September 2005 at 22h 1m 1s|
Do you remember?
Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger makes copies of federal
documents and stuffs the copies in his pocket so he can remember the documents,
and Dennis Hastert orders a full fledge investigation (during the heat of the
2004 election -- coincidence???) which comes out and quietly says that no
documents were taken, and no wrong doing was found.
Just like the whitewater hoax. No wrongdoing ever occurred.
Oh but the roar of false indignation.
Back to 2005.
Two lawyers representing the Bush administration go into the Federal documents
of recent Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and remove 2 federal documents --
ie, they are gone, vanished, no longer in existence -- and ...
There is no investigation??? Not a word.
Is this the same reason why the Bush administration redacted , what was it, 36
pages of the 9-11 commission report which detailed the Saudi involvement?
Or why when it was discovered that Republican operatives were hacking into
Democratic computers from the offices of Robert Frist ... suddenly an envelope
with the poison Rincin arrives at Frist's office, and the investigation of
Frist's computers comes to a halt.
Can you say Anthrax in envelopes to Congress?
Can you say Medicare bills signed at 3:30 in the morning after Hastert bribed
congressmen on the floor of Congress -- for a bill that is a sop to the
Insurance industry that pays the politicians well.
And what about Jack Abramof and Tom Delay scamming by diverting funds from
profits and use front organizations and fake businesses to funnel cash into
political slush funds? What about the way Ohio Republicans used the State
Worker Retirement fund as a conduit to raising huge amounts of cash under the
disguise of investing in the same investments of the trust fund?
How many cost-plus contracts will Halliburton and Bechtel get at the expense of
the tax payers?
Will Ken Lay ever serve time, or will all his suggested
appointments to the Federal bureaucracy ensure that Enron-onomics will be with
us for an uncomfortably long time -- that means you Patrick Wood III.
Of course Bush doesn't flout the Geneva Conventions in Guantanamo, thats why
Bush refused to join the World Criminal Court and why the ABM treaty was ended,
and why longtime Bush lawyer Gonzales wrote a legal memo stating that the
Geneva Conventions were "cute" and non-applicable.
Why is Tom Delay soon going to be criminally indited, and
why did the Republicans all gather together and change their rules about
prohibiting a majority leader who is indited for a federal crime?
How about gerrymandering Texas after it was legally redistricted, so that you
create 5 seats for Republicans by deftly slicing the Democratic areas to shreds?
Need I say more?
Now I forget, what was it that Clinton did?
|Saturday, 10 September 2005 at 13h 16m 15s|
Other FEMA appointed officials
There is a list provided by David Allen here.
|Saturday, 10 September 2005 at 14h 23m 42s|
The media double standard
From the Rolling Stone :
. . . The press also went into a tizzy over Gore's casual comment during that
first debate that he had traveled with James Lee Witt, head of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, to Texas during a spate of wildfires. As vice
president, Gore had traveled with Witt seventeen different times, but not on
the date in question. Gore corrected the record the next morning, but the press
treated his slip of the tongue as wildly important.
. . . During the debates, though, Bush made a handful of blunders regarding
military operations in the Balkans and Haiti, about the facts surrounding
Texas' most celebrated hate-crime trial and about his own tax plan. Bush was
free to botch facts about central policy issues and the press wouldn't question
his intelligence. But if Gore were to misstate nonessential details, such as
how long a student had to stand in a crowded Sarasota classroom, he was tagged
a liar who couldn't be trusted.
Few journalists saw anything wrong with this double standard. In fact, some
found it amusing. "You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you
really get in the weeds and get out your calculator, or you look at his record
in Texas," Time magazine columnist Margaret Carlson told radio morning man Don
Imus at the height of the campaign. "But it's really easy, and it's fun, to
disprove Gore. As sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another
whopper is greatly entertaining to us."
Who decided that covering presidential politics was supposed to
be "entertaining" and "fun" for journalists?
Answer: the corporate exec's and proprietors who got the word out : make Dubya
look like an easy-going honest man of integrity, and make Gore look like a
stiff, humorless, slick bureaucrat. Those who heeded the call got the big spots
and the promotions.
|Saturday, 10 September 2005 at 12h 12m 31s|
Can you tell the difference?
Thanks to Billmon.
Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking
extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with
the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who
does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.
The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the
Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be
lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said
Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.
The event, the America Supports You Freedom Walk, is billed as a memorial to
victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and a show of support for those serving
in the military, topped off with a concert by country singer Clint Black, known
for his pro-troops anthem, "Iraq and Roll."
Organizers said they expect 3,000 to 10,000 participants.
Tight Constraints on Pentagon's Freedom Walk
September 9, 2005
Pyongyang, North Korea -- Organizers of the Democratic People's Republic's
memorial Slavery Walk are taking extraordinary measures to encourage
participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined
with secret police, and the event closed to anyone who does not have the
slogan "Long Live Dear Leader, Glorious Light of the Proletarian Masses"
tattooed on his or her forehead by 4:30 p.m. today.
The march, sponsored by the Ministry of Defense, will wend its way from
People's Tractor Factory No. 438 to the People's Palace of Democratic Torture
along a route that is classified as a state secret and will be lined with 16-
foot concrete walls topped with broken glass and razor wire to keep
it "ideologically pure," Dear Leader Kim Jong-il said.
The event, the We Will Gladly Lay Down our Insignificant Lives for Dear Leader
Slavery Walk, is billed as a memorial to victims of imperialist aggression and
a show of support for those serving in the People's Army, topped off with a
concert by folk singer Klint Black-il, known for his pro-government
anthem, "Without Your Brilliant Dialetical Thought, Our Petty Lives Are Empty
and Meaningless, O Wonderous Dear Leader."
Organizers said they expect 30 million to 100 million participants.
Unprecedented Freedom Allowed
For This Year's Slavery Walk
All Hail Dear Leader!
September 9, 2005
|Saturday, 10 September 2005 at 20h 28m 53s|
President Gore acts like a president
... while presidential thief Dubya pretends he has a
pats his lick-spittles on the back, mangling his speech in between
cocktails at Ptomkin villages created by the crack white house spin machine, a
real man gives an example of how to be a leader -- and doesn't request any
From CNN : [LINK]
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Al Gore helped airlift some 270 Katrina evacuees
on two private charters from New Orleans, acting at the urging of a doctor who
saved the life of the former vice president's son....
On September 1, three days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, [Greg]
Simon, [ president of the Washington-based activist group FasterCures,]
learned that Dr. David Kline, a neurosurgeon who operated on Gore's son,
Albert, after a life-threatening auto accident in 1989, was trying to get in
touch with Gore. Kline was stranded with patients at Charity Hospital in New
"The situation was dire and becoming worse by the minute -- food and water
running out, no power, 4 feet of water surrounding the hospital and ... corpses
outside," Simon wrote.
Gore responded immediately, telephoning Kline and agreeing to underwrite the
$50,000 each for the two flights, although Larry Flax, founder of California
Pizza Kitchens, later pledged to pay for one of them.
"None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of
payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews," Simon wrote of the
American Airlines flights. "One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was
good enough for them."
He also recruited two doctors, Spickard and Gore's cousin, retired Col. Dar
LaFon, a specialist in internal medicine who once ran the military hospital in
Most critically, Gore worked to cut through government red tape, personally
calling Gov. Phil Bredesen to get Tennessee's support and U.S. Transportation
Secretary Norm Mineta to secure landing rights in New Orleans.
The country wanted Gore to be President in 2000, but Dubya had to be a big baby
and steal it. And now 5 years later, the country is a mess.
|Saturday, 10 September 2005 at 23h 26m 43s|
Clinton did something
Clinton explains why he decided to stop
"... I went to Florida [after Hurricane Andrew in 1992] a few days after
President [George H.W.] Bush did to observe the
damage from Hurricane Andrew. I had dealt with a lot of natural disasters as
governor, including floods, droughts, and tornadoes, but I had never seen
anything like this. I was surprised to hear complaints from both local
officials and residents about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency was
handling the aftermath of the hurricane. Traditionally, the job of FEMA
director was given to a political supporter of the President who wanted some
plum position but who had no experience with emergencies. I made a mental note
to avoid that mistake if I won. Voters don't chose a President based on how
he'll handle disasters, but if they're faced with one themselves, it quickly
becomes the most important issue in their lives."
-- Bill Clinton, My Life (p. 428)
Keep in mind, that this was written before Hurricane Katrina occurred,
and so must be considered a sincere reflecion upon an event that Mr. Clinton
|Saturday, 10 September 2005 at 11h 26m 5s|
What red tape are they talking about?
From the NPR Katrina timeline Transcripts. [SOURCE]
SULLIVAN: On Saturday, the Louisiana Guard calls up 4,000 troops, every
Guardsman in the state. But almost half of its force is out of the state and
out of the country. Three thousand Louisiana Guard troops are in Iraq, along
with most of Louisiana's heavy equipment, including its watercraft, high-water
vehicles and generators. Lieutenant Colonel Schneider says the troops fan out
to staging areas across the state. According to the emergency plan, they're to
wait there until the storm passes. Their job is to distribute supplies and
maintain order. The plan anticipates there might be some looting and violence.
SULLIVAN: That same Saturday, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco says
the storm will be so big that state and local governments won't be able to
handle it. She asks President Bush to declare a state of emergency. Later that
day, he does.
The next day, on Sunday, at 9:30 AM, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issues the
first ever mandatory evacuation in the city's history.
Mayor RAY NAGIN (New Orleans): Make sure that you check on your
neighbors. It's very important, particularly the senior citizens, that we check
on them to make sure that they're OK and that they're not too frightened, and
that we assist them before we take off.
ZWERDLING: Meanwhile, next door in Jefferson Parish, Walter Maestri is
sending fire trucks to the streets.
Mr. MAESTRI: And the fire department went through the neighborhoods,
`Alert! Alert! For your information, you live in a low-lying area that is
highly prone to flooding. And it is the recommendation of your parish
government that you immediately evacuate.'
ZWERDLING: The state's deputy director of emergency planning, Jeff
Smith, says almost one million people do leave.
Mr. JEFF SMITH (Deputy Director, Louisiana Department of Homeland
Security and Emergency Planning): Everyone is kind of focusing on response at
this point in time. I don't hear anybody talking about how successful that
evacuation was. It probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and nobody
wants to talk about that.
SULLIVAN: All weekend long, key officials coordinate their disaster
plans in almost constant conference calls. There are staff members for more
than 40 state and federal agencies camped in one room at the state's emergency
planning center in Baton Rouge. FEMA's there. They're supposed to make sure
that the food gets to hurricane survivors. The US Army Corps of Engineers is in
the room. They're in charge of water and structural damage. The National Guard
is at the center. They're supposed to provide the troops and trucks and boats
to forge through the flood. And they're all on the line with local managers
like Walter Maestri to confirm that they'll move in as soon as the hurricane
Mr. MAESTRI: All day Saturday and all day Sunday and all day Monday,
until the winds got so high that the phone lines blew down, we were in constant
contact. Every two to three hours, we were talking.
More than 40 emergency agencies--local, state and federal--were meeting almost
every two hours in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. They were planning
for a storm that could devastate the region. But as soon as Katrina hit, those
plans started to unravel....
[Tuesday] morning, Walter Maestri follows the disaster plan to rush help to
Jefferson Parish. He gets on his shortwave radio, and he calls the emergency
command center in Baton Rouge. He talks with FEMA and the National Guard and
the Army Corps of Engineers.
Mr. WALTER MAESTRI (Emergency Management Center, Jefferson Parish): We
made the request Tuesday morning. We went through the state Office of Emergency
Preparedness. I am requesting the water and ice, the meals, the demax(ph)...
ZWERDLING: The medical--the Mobile Medical Unit?
Mr. MAESTRI: The medical--the Mobile Medical, the DMORT, the mobile
morgue and so forth. They said they would place the orders and that they should
be here within 12 to 36 hours. That's Tuesday morning.
ZWERDLING: And Mayor Nagin says he's confident that help is about to
pour into New Orleans. He says an official at FEMA has just briefed him.
"All weekend long, key officials coordinate their disaster plans in almost
constant conference calls."
75% of the Louisiana National Guard was in Iraq, along with "most" of their
I suppose the "red tape" to which the talking heads that read the memo refer
was the "war" in Iraq, and the inability of the feds to stick to the decisions
made on those conference calls because the feds had other priorities.
And they scream about people playing politics, while they play politics
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS