Monday, November 08, 2004

 

McGreevy Out

Well, instead of waiting until November 15, McGreevy resigned today. Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat, will take office immediately. It's good that he resigned, he had to, but the political realities of what have happened are hard to ignore. McGreevy only held on to his seat to avoid a special election, increase the chance of Kerry winning NJ--which he did, and ensure that the seat is passed on to a Democrat.

Overall, he needed to resign for what he did not in lying about being Gay, but in his misconduct in appointing an unqualified individual to a critical position. He gave his lover the job to secure NJ against terrorism, the only experience he had was being in the IDF.

So it goes though, that's my state, it's important to note that most people don't care he was gay in NJ, it's the whole corruption thing that pissed us off.

Whatever,

Jon Corzine for Governor in 2005!


Thursday, November 04, 2004

 

Big News

Apparently, reports are comming in that Yasser Arafat is in critical condition, in fact he's in a coma. This could be something we're not ready for.

 

Two Americas?

So how does it feel to the rest of you I wonder? How does it feel to truly live in a divided America, two separate Americas--not in the John Edwards way either? I mean two separate ideological countries. There is something interesting about this Bush win. Unlike other Presidents to win re-election, this president did not carry a majority of the states, in most cases, the map has looked drastically different for the incumbent on re-election, and in most cases they swept the country. In this case, Bush won Iowa, so he made one gain of a blue state. Outside of that, though the map stayed the same. What does that tell us?

For one, this isn't a country that has cried out for unity and healing. This isn't a country that came out and gave Mr. Bush a mandate for the next four years. No, as stated, this was a good election for the Christian right, they got their base out they won; they got marriage as definable in eleven states.

What is true, is that with a map the same as the last election, the country remains just as bitterly divided. It is not going to get better. Keep this in mind, if this hardcore socially conservative base gave Bush the election, he's going to owe his base big, so don't expect to see a more moderate second term.

There's something I should say, with the prospect of a Kerry win, I was willing to heal I suppose you could call it. I was prepared to be critical, hold real dialogue, that kind of thing, persuasion. Yet, my American brothers in many of those Red States came out in full force to say they didn't want to hear it, their minds in these social matters are guided by a higher power, and no movement of earth can shake that.

So where are we now? Where does someone like me, a liberal libertarian I suppose I would say, go? Where do the Blue States go? Let's face something, I'm agreeing with Andrew Sullivan, now is the perfect time to embrace Federalism perhaps. People from New Jersey will not agree with most people from the midland of America. New Yorkers are not going to find common ground with the Christian Right. Distressing? Well, perhaps not, perhaps we need to accept that this country is bitterly divided, and for good reason. Never before has such a staunch difference existed on issues that are so fundamental to our character as Americans.

It is amazing, you have the Red States and the Blue States, and the Red States agree on one thing, and the Blue States another, part of me kind of cynically wishes the Civil War was left as it was. Try as you might, you're just not going to see a union on social issues from the Senator of the Great State of New York, and a Senator from the Great State of Mississippi.

Welcome to the new Two Americas, we're not as we were in the 20th Century, divided as John Edwards correctly understood it by socio-economic status. No, we're divided on morals, we're divided on ideals, we're divided on the very character of who we are as a nation, and I don't think you're going to see Bush reach out to Blue State ideology in the next four years.


 

On Moral Values

Well, I was wrong, I was wrong and so were a handful of others, and now we know why. Everyone thought that the issue would come down to the war, the security of the nation, yet for a majority of Bush voters that was not the issue that brought them out to the polls. Instead it was "moral values" that serves as a code word for stopping gay marriage and other despicable things. Now I don't purport to say that there are some Republicans out there who didn't vote for the President because of the war and so on. Yet, as most of the data is showing, it was the moral values crowd that dramatically increased the conservative evangelical vote in places like Ohio that tipped the scales.

Let's not make a mistake though, with marriage bans passing on ALL ELEVEN ballots it's no secret that a large part of this electorate came out to vote against gay marriage. Karl Rove successfully linked that to John Kerry, and was able to touch that remaining but large middle American traditionalist view. When everyone thought he was going one way, he went another. With this kind of thinking, however, with winning this election on the moral issues, you need to ask yourself, did the debates really matter? For the conservative base that came out to give Bush this election, they came out like they did in 1994, simply put, they could not agree morally with the Democrats and could not stomach John F. Kerry sitting in the oval offices--with his gay buddies.

However, I do not deny a large group of the Republican party, not of the Christian right, voted for Bush because of policy and honest differences, and I still have many friends who did so--although all except a few voted in Red States anyway.


Monday, November 01, 2004

 

Election Prediction

Well, despite my absence of commentary, I figured I'd still put in my hopes and fears for the election to be held in hours. There are a number of possibilities that have been discussed, Bush winning with near 300 EVs, Kerry winning with near 300EVs, the dreaded 269-269 tie in the Electoral College, or the lawsuits that could follow.

My personal predicition is pretty simple, I think Kerry only needs to win Ohio, and I think he will. If as the tallies on Electoral Vote hold up, then Tuesdsay night will be an amazing night for Kerry, with wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

I also am not sure what to think about the trends that show we could see another 'misfired election' wherein the winner of the Popular Vote does not also win the Electoral Vote. Although, in a twist of irony, the math shows that such a misfire would favor Mr. Kerry, instead of President Bush. I think this is unlikely, and here's why:

The current polling is not taking into account to very important factors in this election, one the increased amount of new registrations in battleground states, and more importantly most of these new registrations are students, who overwhelmingly favor Kerry, but also, most new registrations 3 to 1, said they intend to vote against the incumbent. You have to ask yourself if these polls reflect the student population which may be voting tomorrow as never before in America's history, and could truly tip the scales to near landside proportions.

Either way, my final prediction is that I think the 269-269 breakdown is incredible possible, except for one catch, that elector from West Virginia, who could turn to Kerry, making the final count 270-268, and Kerry the winner. Outside of that, I see one other possible outcome, Kerry winning with 288-250 in this scenario the breakdown would be:

Kerry States:
WA, OR, IA, MN, IL, MI, OH, FL, ME, MA, VT, CT, RI, NY, PA, NJ, DC, MD, and DE

Bush States:
AK, HI, ND, SD, MT, WY, ID, UT, NV, AZ, NM, CO, MO, AR, TX, LA, MS, KS, OK, AL, GA, WV, SC, NC, VA, KY, TN, WI, NH, and IN.

Time to get ready for the marathon that will be Election Night.

 

October

It's a missing hole in the history of the site, I know. October was a crazy month of adjustment for me, and so I had to prioritize some things and this blog, as a result, suffered. Regardless, with October behind us, it's time to kick back in with only hours until I can go wait in line and vote.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

 

Class Waiting Lists?

Here's something a little closer to home for those of us at GWU, the prospect of class waiting list. I am personally against them, and most students of all years are also against them. I sent a letter to The Hatchet today, and hopefully it will appear on Monday. But if not, I've duplicated it here to be read:
I’m sure all of us can remember during the registration process when we would refresh the page numerous times waiting for an opening to appear in the class, and jumping on it immediately. So it is no wonder why the SA would want to establish a waiting list system in attempts to ease the pain for students. However, most of the articles so far have missed major problems this plan would cause.

Imagine if you will, early in the morning, picking your classes. The class you need or want is full, but in order to make sure that you won’t get locked out you register for another class at the same time. After doing so you place your name on the waiting list. On that list you manage to get a high spot. Weeks pass and all of a sudden a spot opens up in the class for you. But do you get it? You’re already registered for another class at the same time; will the system pass over you? If the system does pass over you will you be dropped from the waiting list, and will you even be told that you have become ineligible or overlooked because you picked another class? I agree with vice president Linebaugh that the process is prone to confusion. I would go further to say that the current plan, as reported in various issues of The Hatchet, seems to be destined for failure.

Finally, just today I asked the people I work with, all at different years, and any student I could find, and all of them seem opposed to the measure. That leaves me wondering where the SA is drawing this great student support from.
We'll have to see...


 

Baseball Coming Back

Now this is fantastic. Baseball is coming back to D.C. In fact, the team will be playing next season, making the summer that I spend here in Washington if all goes well, extra special. They haven't decided on a name yet, although the Senators is being mulled, but to use that name the Texas Rangers would have to relinquish their ownership of it.

 

4th Amendment Victory

Federal District Judge Marrero has blocked a provision of the US PATRIOT Act. The part that has been blocked was a provision that forces internet service providers and telephone companies to turn over all records of a customer, and then requires the company deny the search and seizure of the records ever took place.

From CNN:

Marrero said his ruling blocks the government from issuing the requests or from enforcing the non-disclosure provision "in this or any other case." But the ruling will not immediately take effect to allow for an appeal.

Megan L. Gaffney, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office in Manhattan, said the government was reviewing the decision and had no immediate comment.

The judge said the law violates the Fourth Amendment because it bars or deters any judicial challenge to the government searches, and violates the First Amendment because its permanent ban on disclosure is a prior restraint on speech.

He noted that the Supreme Court recently said that a "state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

"Sometimes a right, once extinguished, may be gone for good," Marrero wrote.

Marrero issued his decision in favor of an Internet access firm identified in his 120-page ruling as "John Doe." He had agreed to keep the firm's identity secret to protect the FBI probe that led to the search request.

I agree here, but my question is are we at war? Few, not even myself, will deny that we are engaged in a War on Terror and our troops are engaged in military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in covert operations to this end. However, traditionally the legal idea of "war" requires that a declaration of such a state takes place. At the current time, the Congress, has not declared American involved in an actual war.

To me, the judge is missing the point here, or perhaps not making a strong enough judgment. The rationale for his decision, mainly the Fourth Amendment is a valid justification. Search and seizure requires that the judicial safeguards remain in tact in the issuance of warrants and the agents of the federal government should not be allowed to seize records and issue gag orders whenever they want. Yet, to state that war has anything to do with this case, seems to open a new argument for the government to take. That position, of course being, that we are in a time of war and so such action may be warranted through a compelling state interest in the protection of citizens.

However, we must go back to the point that we are not at war. During the Nixon years they searched many through wiretapping, and toward the end began to attempt to justify it through saying the executive had the right to ignore any part of the Constitution if it was being done for national security. Even if, in the case of Nixon, that meant wiretapping dissidents or even the Democratic Party. Fortunately, in a case that was ironically called U.S. v U.S. District Court the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a vote of 8 that the executive did not have such power merely by invoking the necessity of national security. Why the 8? The newest Justice, Judge Rehnquist appointed by Nixon was the author of the "national security" argument for the Department of Justice and so had to remove himself from the consideration of the case.

What this all means is that war or not, that the need to provide a national security does not mean that we can simply engage in action that ignores provisions of the Constitution. The justice's use of the term war, is in and of itself misplaced, the assertion should have been similar to that of U.S. v. U.S.; that a mere need for national security does not mean the protections of the Constitution, the powers that limit government in all times, can be ignored by any branch of government.



Monday, September 27, 2004

 

Light Day

I had a lot to do today and so blogging is pretty light, maybe I'll get another post today. So, instead of being able to make some insight here are the stories I've been reading today:

Picking the Supremes
Fate of New Intel Bill
Jews for Jesus
The Media Losing Their Way

I'll try to post later, but I have some reading to do tonight.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

 

Dump IE Now

Well, I've been saying this for months now:

While Internet Explorer has remained largely unchanged for years, alternative Web browsers like Opera, Apple Computer's Safari and especially Firefox are wowing users with innovative features and the promise of increased protection from hackers.

Firefox rose from the ashes of Netscape, the first popular Web browser, which kick-started the dot-com boom before being vanquished by Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Netscape was then purchased by America Online, which donated the software's code to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

After nearly three years of fits and starts, Mozilla has turned out a sleek, fast-running browser. While numbers are hard to come by, more than five million copies of the software have been downloaded in the last two months, and more than a million in the 10 days since its 1.0 "preview" version was released Sept. 15.

Download Firefox today at Mozilla.


 

To Leave or Not

And if we stay what must we do in order to ensure success. These are the questions on Iraq that were touched upon in a New York Times Week in Review piece today. The article touches upon not only what Americans think a very salient article, but also the rest of the Arab world and even our allies. Reading this article is, I submit, incredibly important to understanding the complexities of the situation we are in today. As the former, NATO General Secretary said:

"Either you leave or you control the country," said Javier Solana, the former NATO secretary general who is now the European Union's foreign policy chief. In New York last week for the United Nations General Assembly, he met with several senior American officials. "You cannot be in a situation like this,'' he said in a brief interview.
However, I fear that part of this requires realism from our leaders of all stripes and a direct message to the American people--success in Iraq will not be easy, it will require more of our young men and women--to me this is a scary concept and I think many Americans agree. Then again is the prospect of letting Iraq turn into another post-Soviet Afghanistan or a civil war with ethnic problems greater than Kosovo, and of course another hot bed of terrorism for attacks on America and our allies.


 

Securing Iraqi Elections

A friend of mine sent me this article in today's New York Times reporting the arrest of a commanding officer of the new Iraqi National Guard. The commander was arrested for having ties with the insurgency.

This becomes important for two reasons, a need to re-examine our policy and the ability to hold elections. For the policy what I am speaking of is this is the second time America has possibly made a mistake in trying to get allies. We first did this in Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance. I suggest that anyone interested read the first chapters of Imperial Hubris to gain an understanding of our rush to use what we saw as the only group that could fight the Taliban. Yet we ignored our own intelligence that said they were unreliable and after the death of their leader falling apart. The Times has this to say about the arrest:

The arrest is the most significant known one of an Iraqi commander who was supposed to help the American military fill the gaping security vacuum left by the ousting of Mr. Hussein and the dismantling of the Iraqi army. It raises questions about whether, in the haste to stand up a legitimate Iraqi force by recruiting former senior Baath Party officials, the Americans have signed on officials with questionable loyalties and abilities, and whether the military will have to conduct a more thorough review of such people as American soldiers gird themselves to try to retake such insurgent-controlled cities such as Falluja, Samarra and Baquba, the capital of Diyala province.

American military commanders have said in recent weeks that they intend to wage a campaign later this fall to seize control of the hot spots, but that Iraqi security forces loyal to the Americans and the interim government must join in the fight and take responsibility for controlling the areas afterward.

That offensive and the participation of Iraqi forces are significant to laying the foundation for a legitimate general election by the end of January, which many experts doubt can take place given the current maelstrom of violence throughout much of the country.

The article goes on to list other occurrences before this which have been cause for concern.

I am not of the pull out camp. However, we need to ensure that elections are a success and that future security by Iraqi's will be a success. Now I have little doubt that most of the people in the Iraqi Guard are in fact good people who want to do what is right. What concerns me as the article pointed out is the leadership. Perhaps America needs to encourage the interim government to slow down and perhaps re-evaluate whom they have in charge of their military. Building a military as fast as we attempted has never successfully taken place, and its goals will only be further tarnished if the people we pick to lead it are not serious about democracy.


Friday, September 24, 2004

 

Limiting the Power

The House passed a bill on Thursday that would prevent any federal court from hearing a case that attempted to rule on the constitutionality of the words 'under God' in the Plegde of Allegiance. Supporters of this Bill are correct in noting that Congress apparently has the power to strip jurisdiction.

Opponents will quickly look to Marbury v. Madison, which began the precedent of judicial review that we have become so accustomed to in our political culture. Yet a difference in this case is that this allowed Judges to interpret the law as to the Constitution. Few, if any, would challenge this principle. What that leaves us with is a different set of facts. Unlike when a law is unconstitutional and requires review and interpretation of the law, this attempt to strip jurisdiction appears to be well within the Constitutional power of Congress, see Article III, Section 2:

In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
It appears that the power to strip such jurisdiction is in fact, legal.

Yet one can reasonably argue that while it is legal it has always been a dangerous river to tread through. In fact, despite this statement in the Constitution, even after Marbury, the Congress was reluctant to challenge the Supreme Court.

So why does this matter? Well, as with all things legal, it's the precedent. The ability to make a change this time effects what changes and regulations Congress may impose on a number of issues, such as the US PATRIOT Act and the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA especially was subject to this kind of control as the House passed the Marriage Protection Act of 2003 that would prevent all federal courts from reviewing the constitutionality of DOMA. Both the MPA and this new bill regarding the Pledge are not expected to reach the Senate until after the election if they reach the Senate at all.

For more information, I turned to FindLaw's Joanna Grossman:

Again, though, there is an interpretive problem: What does the power to make "exceptions" mean, exactly? And, is that power limited by constitutional separation of powers principles?

After all, jurisdiction-stripping takes power from the Courts, and leaves it with Congress (or here, the States). Suppose issue-based jurisdiction-stripping like the MPA's is permissible. Then whenever the controlling party in Congress does not like the way courts were handling an issue, it can pass a new law stripping courts of the right to review that law. That just doesn't seem right - at an extreme, it would render the courts toothless, and give Congress fangs.

Can Congress indeed strip the Court of jurisdiction in such a way that it undermines the general constitutional allocation of power among the branches of government? And if it cannot, then is the MPA that kind of prohibited jurisdiction-stripping?

Finally, what if the MPA itself is discriminatory against gays and lesbians - stripping the Court of the ability to consider an issue that so deeply affects their fates? Could it be unconstitutional under Equal Protection and Due Process precedents - again, including Lawrence and Romer?

Romer, in particular, seems on point: It struck down an amendment to Colorado's constitution that would have precluded any governmental action designed to prohibit or alleviate discrimination against gays and lesbians. Like that amendment, the MPA seems to directly and intentionally target and impede the effectiveness of pro-gay-and-lesbian actions by a state.

For all these reasons, the MPA is likely unconstitutional.

This question of controlling jurisdiction is incredibly important.

My fear is that one day a tyranny of either party may be able to pass such legislation that would advance their goals, unconstitutional as they might be. In my view the court needs to address, through a challenge to a law such as this if passed, what the meaning of exceptions are and how far they may extend. One thing to consider: if we remove all appellate processes including the Supreme Court do we in effect violate the Right to Due Process? The Amendments do, in all cases, take precedent over the original text of the Constitution if there is a contradictory statement therein.

The only other solution that I find acceptable would be an Amendment that would solidify and protect the power of judicial review.



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