Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
active that we come to rely on the hypnotic tube for a systematic daily
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
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
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
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
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
use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia.
Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of
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
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
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
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
the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are intertwined - Governments in fascist
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
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
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
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
(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, 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-
president, who can't explain anything without having to practice it 100 times
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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
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
|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...
FEMA...is 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
"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
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
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
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.
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS