frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.

Check out my old  Voice of the People page.

Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington

1493 POSTS

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Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 17h 8m 9s

The story of life

I thought this was cool.

"Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts."

-- Salman Rushdie

Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 17h 23m 43s

Why did they nominate Harriet Miers?

It wasn't because of her legal prowess or attention to detail.

From the LA Times

At one point, Miers described her service on the Dallas City Council in 1989. When the city was sued for violating the Voting Rights Act, she said, the council "had to be sure to comply with the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection clause."

But the Supreme Court repeatedly has said that the Constitution's guarantee of the "equal protection of the laws" does not mean that city councils or state legislatures must have enough minority members to match the proportion of blacks, Hispanics and Asians in the voting population.

....Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan...said she was surprised the White House did not check Miers' questionnaire before sending it to the Senate.

"Are they trying to set her up? Any halfway competent junior lawyer could have checked the questionnaire and said it cannot go out like that. I find it shocking," she said.

Could it be related to when she was appointed head of the State Lottery Commission ... ?

Here's how Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, on July 17, 2000 !!!, described her initial foray in the morass of Bush's Guard service: [SOURCE: Philadelphia Daily News]

The Bushies' concern began while he was running for a second term as governor. A hard-nosed Dallas lawyer named Harriet Miers was retained to investigate the issue; state records show Miers was paid $19,000 by the Bush gubernatorial campaign.

She and other aides quickly identified a problem--rumors that Bush had help from his father in getting into the National Guard back in 1968. Ben Barnes, a prominent Texas Democrat and a former speaker of the House in the state legislature, told friends he used his influence to get George W a guard slot after receiving a request from Houston oilman Sid Adger. Barnes said Adger told him he was calling on behalf of the elder George Bush, then a Texas congressman.

Both Bushes deny seeking any help from Barnes or Adger, who has since passed away. Concerned that Barnes might go public with his allegations, the Bush campaign sent Don Evans, a friend of W's, to hear Barnes's story. Barnes acknowledged that he hadn't actually spoken directly to Bush Sr. and had no documents to back up his story. As the Bush campaign saw it, that let both Bushes off the hook. And the National Guard question seemed under control.

So far, intriguing...but it gets better, and more complicated. At roughly the same time all of this was happening, Miers was also the Bush-named chair of the scandal-plagued Texas Lottery Commission. The biggest issue before Miers and the commission was whether to retain lottery operator Gtech, which had been implicated in a bribery scandal. Gtech's main lobbyist in Texas in the mid- 1990s? None other than that same Ben Barnes who had the goods on how Bush got into the Guard and avoided Vietnam.

In 1997, Barnes was abruptly fired by Gtech. That's a bad thing, right? Well, on the other hand, they also gave him a $23 million severance payment. A short time later, Gtech -- despite the ongoing scandals -- got its contract renewed over two lower bidders. A former executive director thought the whole thing stunk:

The suit involving Barnes was brought by former Texas lottery director Lawrence Littwin, who was fired by the state lottery commission, headed by Bush appointee Harriet Miers, in October 1997 after five months on the job. It contends that Gtech Corp., which runs the state lottery and until February 1997 employed Barnes as a lobbyist for more than $3 million a year, was responsible for Littwin's dismissal.

Littwin's lawyers have suggested in court filings that Gtech was allowed to keep the lottery contract, which Littwin wanted to open up to competitive bidding, in return for Barnes's silence about Bush's entry into the Guard.

Barnes and his lawyers have denounced this "favor-repaid" theory in court pleadings as "preposterous . . . fantastic [and] fanciful." Littwin was fired after ordering a review of the campaign finance reports of various Texas politicians for any links to Gtech or other lottery contractors. But Littwin wasn't hired, or fired, until months after Barnes had severed his relationship with Gtech.

Littwin reportedly settled with Gtech for $300,000.

Hmm, maybe it's just that Miss Miers is the perfect corporate lawyer, someone who knows who to keep her mouth shut.

These storys come from the Kansas City Star and the Austin American Statesman, but I am quoting from David Sirota. [SOURCE]

With Miers serving as managing partner of the law firm Locke Liddell & Sapp, the firm "helped accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP sell a sham tax shelter" by advising investors that they "'should' be able to beat the Internal Revenue Service in court." Miers' firm "appears to have made $3.5 million on 70 such deals" which a Senate report called called "potentially abusive or illegal."

As I wrote about earlier, under Miers' leadership, Locke Liddell & Sapp was forced to repeatedly pay damages for "defrauding investors" and was building a specialty practice in union busting.

Miers was a Managing Partner at Locke Liddell & Sapp, and should have been at least aware of these illegal practices. They aren't isolated incidents either, and show a pattern consistent with possible intentional practice.

Unless of course, she was made a Managing Partner precisely because she would "not" pay attention to details.

George W. had the same problem in the 1980's when he sat on the corporate board of Harken Energy while the company was selling $10 billion in debts to a faked corporation of insiders so they could make the debt look like a sale. This is also similar to the government contracts Halliburton got while Cheney was the CEO.

Simply put, they know she is corruptible. That's why she was nominated.

Friday, 30 September 2005 at 19h 27m 4s

TV is a waste of time

I mean really. What? Are we so unable to keep our minds occupied and body active that we come to rely on the hypnotic tube for a systematic daily routine?

I listen to the radio. I get clips from different web sources, and listen while I am working on something -- one of many ongoing life-long projects. Sometimes I have a baseball game streaming in the background, but I am not really staring at the game half of the time because I'm busy doing other things. Quite frankly, I don't really understand how to religiously watch 3 hours of straight television and think I'm experiencing a relaxing event. My nerves and pulse keeps me fidgety for something closely resembling to a passion for art and truth.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good movie. I have an appreciation of genius and artistic achievement in whatever form the excellence takes. But to waste your time watching a cheapened cliche for an hour and a half is to me exceptionally annoying. I can think of an almost infinite set of alternatives I'd rather be doing.

So why do we watch stupid skits of people acting out morality shows that are so far from reality that it reminds me of two pampered housewives trying to talk ghetto. I mean, for real real. I remember back to the day when "The Jeffersons" (thanx Franc :-) was a show about a Harlem family moving into an uptown apartment, and even back then, the silly comedy was really about celebrating the success potential of an urban black family. The humor was just a sidetrack.

Let's analyze this thread some more. MASH was the most successful show in part because it met the need of the 1970's which needed an analysis of the breakdown of moral fiber in society, politics, and government. That the show was well written is not an inditement, but merely a fact. Star Trek was equally relevant to the times, but nevertheless, the main draw was due to the fundamental cultural discussion which touched the nation's nerves.

With the concentration of the media into smaller hands, the tendency to manufacture cliches is too much a function of a need to fill space so that commercials can have a medium for revenue accumulation. Television has been a vast sea of mediocrity and incredible stupidity for the last 20 years, although not without exceptions (the Simpsons, the Daily Show, David Letterman, etc.) However, the percentage of good versus schlock is way less than 0.1 percent.

But never underestimate the ability of people to become content when they are well fed and economically stable while they can sit on their ass and get pacified, excited, and emotional by the dancing lights and sounds. I myself am no different, even if my nature is quite frenetic. Like Marshall MacLuan would say in the later 1960's, "the medium is the message." Translated that means it doesn't really matter what is on the television, because it is the experience of sitting passively, imbibed with external sights and sounds, through which the medium is partaken. Our consciousness makes mental impressions and associations based upon the way in which we receive our experience. Television is a very impersonal, vicarious and potentially isolated experience because there is no way really to engage the audience into active engagement with the group, unless the entire group remains seated and receives the spellbinding phenomenom. Instead the group is a farce, celebrated for the cameras only.

I guess for me this is a philosophical predicament. I don't want to project my own anxieties of alienation and disentegration, and yet to me this seems but the prime driver of the great modern rift between society and the individual, in which the community and individual are both amorphous and concrete, rather than completely indistinguishable.

Saturday, 24 September 2005 at 8h 31m 37s

The 14 characteristics of fascist regimes

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

(Source: The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003, Free Inquiry)

Saturday, 24 September 2005 at 16h 15m 54s

Where are the grownups

Thank you.

Thank you, stupid and proudly stubborn, stillborn Republicans.

But I must ask a few questions.

When will you realize that you are all patsies for the imperialistic regime that you are enabling? When will you awake to the reality of the imperialistic mafia which appoints and anoints the multiple figureheads that sit atop the corporate boards, the top corporate executives, the heads of government agencies,and yes, even the very precious politicians whom you gleefully elect to the legislatures and Congress every year, believing the absolute sophistry of con-artists and political shysters that manipulate your good faith with what they will gloriously pronounce as "conservative principles" when the only thing they will ever conserve is ... their precious fat ass.

Wake the fuck up.

How do you like the fact that you have elected a boozer, spoiled-rotten, jack- ass president, who can't explain anything without having to practice it 100 times with his press handlers and speech writers?

Tell me, when does it make sense to appoint another political hack to replace the original political hack who was arrested at the Office of Federal Disbursement for making quite an awful lot of undocumented monetary disbursements to various front corporations, especially when she is the wife of the man named David Sefavian who was thusly arrested. He was exploiting a loophole in the recent laws passed by the Rebublican Congress that all funds below $5,000 do not have to be accounted for.

Oh, but surely she will definitely get to the bottom of whatever her husband was doing.

Incidentally, the recently hurriedly passed law governing the Katrina reconstruction increases the treshold of this loophole to $500,000 !! In case you haven't forgotten, this was the law that Republicans did not allow the Democrats to read before passing.

I suppose this is how the conservative movement described by Republican strategist Grover Norquist scales back government: "by bringing it down to a size so we can flush it down the toilet."

And Republican representative David Vitter of Metairie,Louisiana, who was vehement and constant in his denunciation of FEMA all throughout the 2 week debacle, was unable to even vote on the Republican decision to appoint a special investigation headed by a majority of partisan Republicans, instead of an independent investigation.

Can you say "Whimpee" ?

Why did FEMA and homeland security chief Chertoff halt all bus and train service to and fro New Orleans on Saturday? Why did Michael Brown tell Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco not to use the school and public buses of New Orleans to evacuate people because apparently FEMA was sending in air conditioned buses.

Those buses never showed up. But I suppose that's all the Governor and mayor Ray Nagin's fault.

This was on purpose. They wanted to take the opportunity to play the blame game and try to take the heat of the Iraq war off of the Bush administration.

Since when did "conservative principles" include covering up a vast array of complete and consummate corruption?

And while we are at it, tell me why priority number one to political hack appointee Michael Chertoff was to cancel the provisions of the Clean Air and Water Act, which he can do because President Bush mandated by federal order that the head of homeland security is in charge of all federal emergency areas. Suspending this act in the Louisiana region meant that the Oil And Chemical industries which made the pollutants that spilled and contaminated parts of East New Orleans and Chalmette would not have to pay for the costs of the cleanup. These companies, most if not all of which minimized their costs of storage by keeping toxic chemicals in heavy plastic containers sunk into the ground that leaked or did not upgrade their storage facilities. This from an industry which only last quarter made massive profits at an average rate of 36 percent above costs. That is more than 7 times the average business profit margin of 5 percent.

And why is Karl Rove placed in charge of the contracting process of the Katrina reconstruction? This is a man who only just last month called the office of a Texas state Voter Registration Board and had one of the workers fired because the state worker gave public information about Karl Rove's voting status to a reporter for the Washington Post that was doing a story investigating the legally of Karl Rove's voting status in Texas.

And in case you haven't figured this out, Karl Rove and Judith Miller were in cahoots to orchestrate the journalistic trumpeting of the weapons of mass destruction that eventually led to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame by professional henchman extraordinaire Robert Novak.

Or was it after the "war" began to sour, when letters-to-the-editor purporting to be written by various different soldiers found their way in hundreds of local newspapers across the United States, only to become discredited when the soldiers whose names were attached were found to be quite ignorant of their existence. Another oddity was their nearly complete similarity in content and progression of style.

And you don't really think Fox news is "fair and balanced" ? come on, don't excuse it by calling it entertainment. Oh, yea, great O'Reilly mouthed off about that poor little girl for a couple of shows. Showing up at church once a week does not excuse the heinous gore and perfidity of the other 6 days.

My god. Since when did Republicans want to salvage the party at expense of the country?

I mean really. I saw John McCain huge and kiss Mr. Bush on the stage after that man orchestrated the most disgusting smear campaign against him in south Carolina. Where is your sense and integrity man?

And look at the tainted lying men who head the top ranks of your party. Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Ken Mehlmann, Newt Gingrich, Arnold Schwartzeneger, Rudolph Guiliani, Trent Lott, Pat Robertson, John Bolton, Donald Rumsfeld, Condolezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and the entire Bush family -- not to mention all their political minions and suck-ups below.

Now I am not a Democrat, but at least Howard Dean, Jimmy Carter, John Edwards, Edward Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi do not lie and play politics to the extreme of putting the country in jeopardy.

Saturday, 17 September 2005 at 15h 40m 4s

The speech filled with Lies

Thanks to ThinkProgress.

Bush said: “The government of this nation will do its part as well. Our cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or terrorist attack.”

FACT — BUSH SAID DHS WAS PREPARED TO MEET TERRORIST THREAT: Bush, 3/2/04: “We’ll face the terrorist threat for years to come. Our government is prepared to meet that threat. One of the most important steps we’ve taken is creating the Department of Homeland Security, combining under one roof, with a clear chain of command, many agencies responsible for protecting our nation… You faced the challenges standing up this new Department and you get a — and a gold star for a job well done.” Bush, 7/22/04: “We will work tirelessly to disrupt and prevent terrorist attacks — and if an attack should come, America will be prepared.”

FACT — FORMER DHS HEAD TOM RIDGE SAID COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN FIRST RESPONDERS HAD IMPROVED: Ridge, 7/22/04: “We’ve committed unprecedented funding, training, equipment and support to first responders at the state and local levels. We’ve improved communication, coordination and cooperation between everyone involved in our nation’s preparedness and response.” Bush, 9/13/05: “Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government.”


Bush said: “I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina.”

FACT: BUSH DOESN’T SUPPORT INDEPENDENT PANEL: Seventy percent of Americans support forming an independent commission, but Senate conservatives are working to create a panel that will reflect “their dominance in Congress.” Bush plans to “lead his own investigation of what went wrong.” [Times-Picayune, 9/14/05; Orlando Sun-Sentinel, 9/15/05; The Guardian, 9/7/05]


Bush said: “We will not just rebuild, we will build higher and better. To meet this goal, I will listen to good ideas from…state and local officials.”

FACT — WHITE HOUSE BLAMED STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS FOR FAILURES: Headline: “White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials” [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

Bush said: “Yet the system, at every level of government, was not well coordinated, and was overwhelmed in the first few days.”

FACT — CRS REPORT SHOWS BLANCO DID HER JOB: A Congressional Research Service report found “that the Governor did take the steps necessary to request emergency and major disaster declarations for the State of Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina.” [Office of Rep. John Conyers]

FACT — DHS SECRETARY FAILED TO RESPOND AS HE SHOULD HAVE: Federal documents obtained by Knight Ridder demonstrated that “even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials.” [Knight Ridder, 9/13/05]


Bush said: “I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority.”

FACT — FOUR YEARS AFTER 9/11, STILL NO NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS GOALS: On August 30, “as New Orleans was drowning and DHS officials were still hours away from invoking the department’s highest crisis status for the catastrophe,” department contractors were emailed the planned “national preparedness goal.” “The checklist, called a Universal Task List, appeared to cover every eventuality in a disaster, from the need to handle evacuations to speedy urban search and rescue to circulating ‘prompt, accurate and useful’ emergency information. … But the documents were not a menu for action in the devastated Gulf Coast. They were drafts, not slated for approval and release until October, more than four years after 9/11.” [Washington Post, 9/3/05]

Bush said: “This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes, so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could threaten our people.”

FACT — BUSH CLAIMED TO HAVE LEARNED THE LESSONS OF 9/11: Bush: “I make decisions based upon what I think is important for the security of the American people. And I’m not going to forget the lessons of 9/11, September 2001.” [10/3/03]


Bush said: “As all of us saw on television, there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well. And that poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America.”

FACT — MILLIONS MORE AMERICANS HAVE FALLEN INTO POVERTY SINCE BUSH TOOK OFFICE: 1.1 million people fell out of the middle class and into poverty in 2004 1.4 million more children live in poverty since Bush took office 250,000 more African Americans fell into poverty over the last two years 500,000 more Hispanics fell into poverty over the last two years []


Bush said: “And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely – so we will have a team of inspector generals reviewing all expenditures.”

FACT — BUSH ADMINISTRATION DEMOTED CORRUPTION WHISTLEBLOWER: The New York Times on Bunnatine Greenhouse’s reassignment: “A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday…” [New York Times, 8/29/05]

Bush said: “Hundreds of thousands of people from across this region will need to find longer-term housing.”

FACT - ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO PUT PEOPLE IN TRAILER PARKS: Rather than providing Section 8 housing vouchers, Bush has requested mobile-home manufacturers to “supply tens of thousands of travel trailers and mobile homes” for victims. [Washington Post, 9/5/05]


Bush said: “To every person who has served and sacrificed in this emergency, I offer the gratitude of our country.”

FACT — BUSH ORDER ALLOWS FEDERAL CONTRACTORS TO PAY LESS THAN PREVAILING WAGE: President Bush issued an order suspending application of the Bacon-Davis Act which “set a minimum pay scale for workers on federal contracts by requiring contractors to pay the prevailing or average pay in the region. Suspension of the act will allow contractors to pay lower wages.” [Washington Post, 9/9/05]

FACT — BUSH WORKING TO SUSPEND WAGE SUPPORTS FOR SERVICE WORKERS: The White House is working to “suspend wage supports for service workers in the hurricane zone as it did for construction workers on federal contracts.” [Washington Post, 9/14/05]

Saturday, 17 September 2005 at 15h 2m 50s

Is this deliberate??

From the New York Times:

Thanks to BlahBlah for help with most of the summarization below.

FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls...


James McGehee, the mayor of Bogalusa, a small Louisiana city near the Mississippi border, could barely contain his rage in an interview on Thursday.

"Today is 18 days past the storm, and FEMA has not even put a location for people who are displaced," he said. "They are walking around the damn streets. The system's broke."


Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers...

[...] an agency with limited federal money that must quickly expand its operational capacity only after a major disaster strikes. It has not won a large chunk of the new federal homeland security dollars, that have been dedicated to terrorism.


The president of St. Tammany Parish, Kevin Davis, is praying that it does not rain in his sweltering corner of Louisiana, because three weeks after the storm severely damaged his drainage system, FEMA has yet to give him approval to even start the repairs.


Up north in the poor parish of Washington, residents are sleeping in houses that were chopped in half by oak trees. The promised wave of government inspectors have not shown up to assist them.


In Tangipahoa Parish, the parish president, Gordon Burgess, said he called FEMA officials daily to ask when they would arrive to assist residents with housing. Mr. Burgess said the federal workers say, " 'I'll get to you next week,' and then the next week and then you'd never hear from them again."

Indeed, almost every local leader interviewed - even those sympathetic to FEMA's plight - complained that they could not get FEMA to approve their contracts with workers, tell them when they would be opening help centers or answer basic questions. Often, they say, the FEMA worker on the ground, eager to help, has to go up the chain of command before taking action, which can take days.

"People on the ground are wonderful but the problem is getting the 'yes,' " said Mr. Davis of St Tammany parish, who has a contractor ready to clean his drainage system of the same trees FEMA allowed him to take off his streets, and to repair parts of the sewage system.

"I'm saying, 'Wait a minute, you pick up debris on the road but not the drainage?' If it rains, I've got real problems. I just need someone to tell me make the public bids and I could rebuild our parish in no time."


Tempers are already flaring among many of the thousands of people displaced by the storm who have had a hard time getting through to FEMA on the telephone or finding centers where FEMA representatives can answer questions about various federal assistance programs. Only 8 of 40 promised sites have opened in Louisiana.


Evacuees and local officials also complain that FEMA's request for them to register on line or via phone is unrealistic, given that as of Wednesday 310,000 households in Louisiana were still without telephone service and 283,231 were still awaiting power, or nearly 30 percent of the state's households.


Meanwhile, truck drivers carrying tens of thousands of tons of ice and driving water have been sent on a cross-country tour, from city to city, only then to be told to wait for up to a week in a parking lot in Memphis, with their engines, as well as their tabs as drivers running.

"It is a sad experience," said Frank Link,, who was sent from to Missouri, then to Mississippi, then to Alabama and then to Tennessee - all with the same load of 41,580 pounds of ice that he had loaded in Chicago. "I went down there to help. All I did was get the runaround from FEMA."

Saturday, 17 September 2005 at 14h 38m 29s

Ruled by 180 year old court decisions

''We are now arrived at the inquiry--'' continued the Chief Justice, ''What is this power? It is the power to regulate; that is, to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed. This power, like all others vested in congress, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations, other than are prescribed in the constitution . . . If, as has always been understood, the sovereignty of congress, though lim ited to specified objects, is plenary as to those objects, the power over commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, is vested in congress as absolutely as it would be in a single government, having in its constitution the same restrictions on the exercise of the power as are found in the constitution of the United States.''

-- Chief Justice John Marshall, Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824)

Saturday, 17 September 2005 at 14h 31m 50s

The commerce clause

From Wikipedia

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 Tribes."

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 section.

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."

New Deal

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 regulation.

Civil rights

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 (thanks Atrios.)

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.