Thursday, September 29, 2005
The Democratic front-runners for '08 are failing to show us anything right now, but there may be someone that is going to come out of left field to lead this party. I think that person could very well be Al Gore.
From About.com by Deborah White:
There's something about Al Gore, the 45th US Vice President, that we can't seem to let go of. Maybe it's because he was right on just about everything in the 2000 Presidential campaign. Maybe it's because he was the first Democratic leader to publicly speak out against the Iraq War. Maybe it's because of his persistent wisdom on global warming and the environment. Maybe it's because we love a risk-taker and a visionary.....
Or maybe it's because we can relate to his imperfections...his sometimes-goofy, self-deprecating humor, his Saturday Night Live-spoofed staidness, his endearing affection for Tipper. We definitely admire his tenacity in taking a tough punch and yet moving on.
And maybe we're righteously angry that he got cheated in the 2000 election. And even more, that the United States got horribly cheated.
The last four years have been a test of our national leadership, and only one person has passed that test: Al Gore. While others jumped on the right wing bandwagon until Bush’s approval ratings fell under 50%, Gore spoke out fearlessly, becoming the conscience of the Democratic Party. Al Gore first voiced his opposition to the invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act before Congress voted on them. In a series of landmark speeches before Moveon.org, Gore has blasted the Bush Administration for its corporate corruption, environmental abuses, their assault on our civil rights and their numerous campaigns to mislead the American people.
In and out of office, Al Gore has proven that he is the kind of President we will need to repair the damage done by the Bush Administration.
“There has always been a debate over the destiny of this nation between those who believed they were entitled to govern because of their station in life, and those who believed that the people were sovereign. That distinction remains as strong as ever today. In every race this November, the question voters must answer is, How do we make sure that political power is used for the benefit of the many, rather than the few?...
Standing up for the people, not the powerful was the right choice in 2000. In fact, it is the ground of the Democratic party's being, our meaning and our mission.
The suggestion from some in our party that we should no longer speak that truth, especially at a time like this, strikes me as bad politics and wrong in principle.” - - From "Broken Promises and Political Deception" by Al Gore, August 3, 2002.
There is a hard truth that we Democrats must face: not all of our leaders share our values. Not all of our leaders value the grassroots as anything more than a source of campaign funding - - and votes which they cannot lose, no matter what. They condescend to talk our talk on the campaign trail, and instantly turn their backs on us once they are safely in office.
Is that the kind of Democrat you want as our 2008 nominee?
That’s the kind of Democrat you’ll get if you wait until the 2008 primaries to get involved. Because that’s the kind of Democrat that corporate special interests want to run. They’ll put their money behind a candidate who won’t rock their boat - - a candidate who will always stand up for the powerful, not the people.
The only thing that can stop them is you.
Every flood begins with a single rain drop. Every single person who stands up now, adds to the power of the whole. Together, we can ensure that our 2008 nominee is a real Democrat - - a man whose proven track record of visionary leadership on the environment, foreign policy, national security, the economy, civil rights and technology puts him head and shoulders above the rest - - a man who has never stopped fighting for us.
Take the next step - - join us in demanding that now, more than ever, America needs a real Democrat in the White House.
Now, more than ever, America needs Al Gore.
From Lizzy - What do you guys think?
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I never thought I would include anything Dennis Miller said on my blog, but this was brilliant. He recently said the following about the Mid East situation on his show: (He is not Jewish .)
"A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need."
Here we go:
The Palestinians want their own country. There's just one thing about that: there are no Palestinians. It's a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient but is really a modern invention. Before the Israeli's won the land in the 1967 war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no "Palestinians."
As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the "Palestinians," weeping for their deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation."
So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the word "Palestinian" any more to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths until someone points out they're being taped. Instead, let's call them what they are: "Other Arabs Who Can't Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama of Eternal Struggle and Death." I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN.
How about this, then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters."
Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing. No, they don't. They could've had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David. But if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living.
That's no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel. They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course --that's where the real fun is -- but mostly they want Israel.
Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or "The Zionist Entity" as their textbooks call it - for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people away from the fact that they're the blue-ribbon most illiterate, poorest, and tribally backward on God's Earth, and if you've ever been around God's Earth, you know that's really saying something.
It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic about the great history and culture of the Muslim Mideast. Unless I'm missing something, the Arabs haven't given anything to the world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one.
Chew this around and spit it out: five hundred million Arabs; five Million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals.
Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding.
My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the other day: Just reverse the numbers. Imagine five hundred million Jews and five million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it. Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves? Of course not.
Or marshaling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab State into the sea? Nonsense. Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents? Impossible. Or spreading and believing horrible lies about the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of children?
No, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace, the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death.
I understand that with vital operations in Iraq and others, it's in our interest, as Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible, and, after all, that can't be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of super models who've just had their drugs taken away.
However, in any big-picture strategy, there's always a danger of losing moral weight. We've already lost some. After September 11th, our president told us and the world he was going to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them. Beautiful. Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of an Oklahoma City every week (and then every day) start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint.
If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day, we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and east of the Jordan.
Please feel free to pass this along to your friends. Walk in peace! Be Happy! Have a wonderful life!
Friday, September 23, 2005
Throughout my childhood & early teens, we had Taffy, a white toy poodle. Like all poodles, she was very smart. She did bite a few people from time to time, but in our eyes, they just added to her charm.
At 16, I got my first pug, Bentley. He was a great dog that insisted on taking long walks - even through the Minnesota snow. I still grieve for him as his life was cut far too short.
At 29, I got my second pug, Emily Beth. She truly was like a daughter, and will always hold a very special place in my heart. I cooked extra lean hamburger meat to add to her super-premium dog food everyday, because that was the way she liked it. I lost her a couple years ago, and still think about her everyday.
The reason I'm blogging about the great dogs in my life that have crossed into the Rainbow Bridge, is this piece that Michelle sent me. This one really got to me.
A boy and his dog in Bushland, by M. Kane Jeeves
Last week, my wife and I lost our best friend to cancer, a fluffy Westie, “Laughing Gravy, ” named after an old Laurel and Hardy film. He’d been with us 16 of our 17 years of marriage.
My wife cooked his meals, as she does for our other two dogs, after she found out the contents of corporate dog food were notso hotso. When Gravy went off his food? I barbecued for him. We hand fed him. I’d put on Dean Martin songs and dance and sing around his bowl to give him his food and his pills.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals. My wife cooked. I sang and danced.
In his youth, George W. Bush blew up frogs.
As an adult, to appear vaguely human, he carries around his Scottie, Barney, like a log, dropping him on his head from time to time. Is it any wonder he has no idea what he has done to the people of the Gulf Coast in terms of Katrina? Is it any wonder he had no idea what he has unleashed in terms of the catastrophe known as Iraq? 1,904 Americans dead. Countless Iraqis.
He has no depth, no feeling, no sense of self. But, he uses a dog to make him seem human. A regular guy.
It’s a family tradition.
After all, it was his mother, Babs, who used her dog Millie as a shill to sell a book. She passed herself off to the public as the ultimate “Aunt Bea.”
But, her real self bubbles up every so often. And it ain’t Aunt Bea.
It was Dubya’s mother (dubbed by Jeb as “The Enforcer”), who said, before the illegal invasion of Iraq: “Why should we hear about body bags and death and how many? It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” It was his mother who said, after the devastation brought by Katrina and after visiting the homeless barely clinging to their minds in the Houston Astrodome. “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.”
Then she added the capper: “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas.”
Dubya is a bad seed, spawned by other bad seeds. His family has never been about feeling or compassion, but about making a buck…at any cost.
His mother, Barbara, didn’t attend her own mother’s funeral. After George’s younger sister died at the age of three, and he was just seven? She went golfing the next day. George never even knew his sister was terminally ill. The rest of the neighbors did, though. They wouldn’t let their children near the girl, fearing that leukemia was contagious.
George’s Dad, George I, is a former CIA guy who facilitated dictators getting U.S. guns and ammo and, then, when President, pardoned all who were accused of concocting the Reagan era’s Iran-Contra scam. George I, of course, was innocent of any wrong-doing because he was out of the loop… as the veep and a former CIA guy. Wanna buy a bridge?
Dubya’s grandfather and great-grandfather, Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker, through the Union Banking Company and W. A. Harriman and Company, raised funds for Hitler to the tune of $50 million between 1924 and 1942. It was only in 1942, when the government seized Union Banking Company assets under the Trading With the Enemy Act, that George Walker and Prescott Bush stopped tossing money Hitler’s way.
This is a family worthy of Caligula…or Masterpiece Theater.
When the hurricane hit New Orleans, and people were drowning, George was literally eating cake at a previously set public appearance. He gasbagged about the great things going on in Iraq, comparing Iraq to W.W. II and inferring that he was today’s FDR.
The next day? When New Orleans was inundated? He stuck to his political schedule, pushing his idiotic domestic policies and, again, gasbagging about his triumphs in Iraq.
When it became clear that the FEMA and the Homeland Security laddies were running around with their pants around their ankles (For Christ’s sake, Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff was talking about Avian Flu at a previously scheduled event while New Orleans was sinking deeper and deeper into murky water after massive levee ruptures twenty four hours after the storm made landfall. Chertoff didn’t even consider declaring Katrina a national disaster for 36 long hours.), Bush did…nothing.
Eventually, Dubya got into the “Rove” mode, realized everyone had been asleep at the wheel and went down to the South and hugged a lot of black people with his shirtsleeves rolled up. He tried to look like he cared. He joked about getting soused in New Orleans as a youth and vowed to rebuild Senator Trent Lott’s house. His polls plunged. So, he went back there, again, to hug a lot more black people. His polls plunged, again. Eventually, he gave a Disneyland speech from New Orleans from a dry area of town in Jackson Square, lit by Hollywood experts using generators flown into town for a few hours.
His poll numbers continue to sink.
So, where are we, now?
Well, the first thing Bush did, aside from awarding billions of dollars’ worth of no-bid contracts to Halliburton and its ilk to rebuild the Big Easy, was to suspend a Federal law dating back to 1931 that would guarantee American workers the average rate of pay that prevails in the reconstruction regions. It should be noted that in the Katrina-devastated section of the country, construction wages are notoriously low as is.
Someone at Halliburton is dancing a jig, right now, crooning “Money Makes the World Go Round” from the soundtrack of “Cabaret.” Essentially, Bush has just given them the right to hire workers at coolie wages.
We have a corrupt, unfeeling President, surrounded by corrupt, unfeeling sycophants, who are trying to spin death as a GOOD thing. New Orleans will be bigger and better than ever! Lots of jobs will be created! That next Mardi Gras is gonna be bitchin’!
Meanwhile, we have another hurricane, Rita, spinning towards the Gulf Coast.
We have Republicans blaming the poor for not getting out of the way of the storm in time.
We have Fox News bobble-heads blaming, of course, Clinton, for not strengthening New Orleans’s levees.
We have right-wing pundits blaming any Democrat in sight.
We have a President saying that he’ll spend all that it takes to rebuild New Orleans and ignoring the deficit while shoe-horning in every PNAC wet dream imaginable from school vouchers to the corporate take-over of public schools to free enterprise zones as part of his plan.
We have Bush’s top federal procurement official in charge of Katrina contracts, David Safavian, resigning on Friday and getting arrested on Monday for lying and obstructing an FBI criminal investigation into “Honest” Tom DeLay’s old cronie Jack Abramoff’s dealings with the federal government.
We have Bush flying back and forth from D.C. to the water-ravaged sections of the country, talking about “armies of compassion,” which is about as moronic a phrase as “A-Bomb of love.”
And, if these photo op trips don’t boost his ratings? One of these days, he’ll bring his dog.
I’m grieving, right now.
I’m grieving for my dog.
I’m grieving for my bestest, oldest friend.
And I’m grieving for my country.
A country destroyed by a man named Bush.
A man who doesn’t know how to grieve.
I danced for my dog to get him to eat when he was sick.
Bush blew up frogs for the sheer fun of it.
You can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat animals.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
Here's another story not being covered by the lazy, one story at a time, mainstream media. And why should they? It's only one of the biggest ongoing travesties of our time. If you don't believe him, check his sources. It's real.
From The Brad Blog:
* EXCLUSIVE! * A DIEBOLD INSIDER SPEAKS!
DIEB-THROAT : 'Diebold System One of Greatest Threats Democracy Has Ever Known' Identifies U.S. Homeland Security 'Cyber Alert' Prior to '04 Election Warning Votes Can be 'Modified Remotely' via 'Undocumented Backdoor' in Central Tabulator Software.
In exclusive stunning admissions to The Brad Blog some 11 months after the 2004 Presidential Election, a "Diebold Insider" is now finally speaking out for the first time about the alarming security flaws within Diebold, Inc's electronic voting systems, software and machinery. The source is acknowledging that the company's "upper management" -- as well as "top government officials" -- were keenly aware of the "undocumented backdoor" in Diebold's main "GEM Central Tabulator" software well prior to the 2004 election. A branch of the Federal Government even posted a security warning on the Internet.
Pointing to a little-noticed "Cyber Security Alert" issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the source inside Diebold -- who "for the time being" is requesting anonymity due to a continuing sensitive relationship with the company -- is charging that Diebold's technicians, including at least one of its lead programmers, knew about the security flaw and that the company instructed them to keep quiet about it."
Diebold threatened violators with immediate dismissal," the insider, who we'll call DIEB-THROAT, explained recently to The Brad Blog via email. "In 2005, after one newly hired member of Diebold's technical staff pointed out the security flaw, he was criticized and isolated."
In phone interviews, DIEB-THROAT confirmed that the matters were well known within the company, but that a "culture of fear" had been developed to assure that employees, including technicians, vendors and programmers kept those issues to themselves.
The "Cyber Security Alert" from US-CERT was issued in late August of 2004 and is still available online via the US-CERT website. The alert warns that "A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account, which could [sic: allow] a local or remote authenticated malicious user [sic: to] modify votes.
"The alert, assessed to be of "MEDIUM" risk on the US-CERT security bulletin, goes on to add that there is "No workaround or patch available at time of publishing."
"Diebold's upper management was aware of access to the voter file defect before the 2004 election - but did nothing to correct it," the source explained.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Why Don't We All Have a Recall?
C'mon, Mr. President, it's time for you to quit while you're behind.
America must recall the president. That's what this country needs: a good old-fashioned California-style recall election, complete with petitions, finger-pointing and a ridiculous cast of replacement candidates.
Just like Gray Davis had to do here in Califorina, George W. Bush must now defend his job against... Russel Crowe! Because at this point, I want a leader who will throw a phone at somebody. Naomi Campbell can be vice president -- only phone-throwers, people!
Come on, Mr. President, this can't be fun for you anymore.
You can't spend more of our money because you used it all up. And you can't start another war, because you've used up the troops. And when it comes to reacting to hurricanes, you made your old man look like St. Francis of Assissi.
Your job has turned into the Bush family nightmare: helping poor black people.
The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out and no one's speaking to you -- mission accomplished!
Now it's time to do what you do best: lose interest and walk away, like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team.
Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?
Oh, I know what you're saying: "Hey, I've got three more years, and there's so many other things I want to... touch."... Please don't.
I know, I know, there's so much left to do: war with Venezuela, eliminating the sales tax on yachts and diamonds, turning the space program over to the church, handing healthcare over to Haliburton and Social Security to Fannie Mae, giving embryos the vote.
But none of that's going to happen now. Why? Because you're the first American president to lose a whole city. Jimmy Carter never lost a city. Herbert Hoover was a lousy president, but even he didn't concede an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.
You've performed so poorly, you should give yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. On your watch we've lost almost all of our allies, the budget surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the city of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky.
I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.
Yes. God does speak to you. And right now, he's saying: "Take a hint!"
Thursday, September 15, 2005
We've Raised a Half-Million Dollars and Sent Over 50 Tons of Food and Water - Michael Moore
Last week I closed my New York production office and sent my staff down to New Orleans to set up our own relief effort. I asked all of you to help me by sending food, materials and cash to the emergency relief center we helped set up on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain with the Veterans for Peace. We did this when the government was doing nothing and the Red Cross was still trying to get it together. Every day, every minute was critical. People were dying, poor people, black people, left like so much trash in the street. I wanted to find a way to get aid in there immediately.
I hooked up with the Vietnam veterans and Iraqi war vets (Veterans for Peace) who were organizing a guerilla, grass-roots relief effort. They were the same group that had set up Cindy Sheehan's camp in Crawford and now they had moved Camp Casey to Louisiana.
I have good news and horrible news to report. First, your response to my appeal letter was overwhelming. Within a few days, a half-million dollars was sent in through my website to fund our relief effort. This money was immediately used to buy generators, food, water, a mobile medical van, tents, satellite phones, etc.
Others of you began shipping supplies to our encampment. People in communities all over the country started organizing truck caravans to us in Louisiana. Twenty-two trucks from southern California alone have already arrived. A semi-truck from Chicago delivered ten tons of food. A group of friends in New Jersey got two 24 foot trucks, got their community to load them up with goods, and arrived in Covington tonight. Fifteen iMacs are inbound from California. One man gave us his pick-up truck and another donated truck is en route from Houston.
Your response to my appeal has been nothing short of miraculous. And it has saved many, many lives.
A number of you decided to just get in your cars and drive to our camp to volunteer to help. We now have had 150 volunteers here doing the work that needs to be done. Last night they unloaded twenty tons of food from a tractor trailer in under two hours. Each day more volunteers arrive. Everyone is sleeping on the ground or in tents. It is a remarkable sight. Thank you, all of you, for responding. I will never forget this outpouring of generosity to those forgotten by our own government.
My staff and the vets spend their 18-hour days delivering food and water throughout the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. What they have seen is appalling. I have asked them to post their daily diaries on my website (http://www.michaelmoore.com/) along with accompanying photos and video so you can learn what is really going on. What the media is showing you is NOT the whole story. It is much, much worse and there is still little being done to bring help to those who need it.
Our group has visited many outlying towns and villages in Mississippi and Louisiana, places the Red Cross and FEMA haven't visited in over a week. Often our volunteers are the first relief any of these people have seen. They have no food, water or electricity. People die every day. There are no TV cameras recording this. They have started to report the spin and PR put out by the White House, the happy news that often isn't true ("Everyone gets 2,000 dollars!").
The truth is that there are dead bodies everywhere and no one is picking them up. My crew reports that in most areas there is no FEMA presence, and very little Red Cross. It's been over two weeks since the hurricane and there is simply not much being done. At this point, would you call this situation incompetence or a purposeful refusal to get real help down there?
That's why we decided not to wait. And we are so grateful to all of you who have joined us. The Veterans for Peace and my staff aren't leaving (and that's why we are hoping those of you who can't get to Covington will make it to the Veterans for Peace co-sponsored anti-war demonstration in DC on September 24: www.unitedforpeace.org.)
If you want to help, here's what we need in Covington right now:
Cleaning Supplies (glass cleaner, bleach, disinfectant, etc.) Aspirin and other basic over the counter drugs. Bottled Water, Canned Goods, Hygiene Supplies, Baby Supplies - Baby Food Formula, diapers #4, #5, Wipes, Pedialyte, Sterile Gloves, Batteries - All kinds, from AA to watch and hearing aid batteries. Volunteers with trucks and cars Self contained kitchens with generators, utensils, workers
Consider sending supplies in reusable containers. List the contents on the outside of the package so the folks in the warehouse can easily sort the items.
Clothes are not needed. If you go, keep in mind that you MUST be self-sufficient. Bring a tent and a sleeping bag. People are driving to Covington from across the country and often have extra room in their cars for you or for an extra box of supplies. For more information, go to the Veterans for Peace message board: www.vfproadtrips.org/katrina/.
Send supplies via UPS to:
Veterans for Peace
74145 Hwy. 25
Thanks again for funding and supporting our relief efforts. It has been a bright spot in this otherwise shameful month.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
St. Paul primary: Coleman tops Kelly 52%-27%
Rochelle Olson and Jackie Crosby
September 14, 2005
St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly could be in for the fight of his political life after receiving barely half as many votes as former City Council Member Chris Coleman in Tuesday's primary.
In Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak outpolled Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin as the two advanced to a Nov. 8 general-election showdown. All four are DFLers.
Coleman outdistanced Kelly by 52 percent to 27 percent, with Kelly coming perilously close to dropping behind Green Party candidate Elizabeth Dickinson, who received 19 percent.
Coleman and Kelly will face off in November, as will Rybak and McLaughlin. Both Minneapolis DFLers easily advanced. Rybak got 44 percent to 35 percent for McLaughlin.
Kelly faced voters for the first time Tuesday since endorsing Republican President Bush in 2004. His campaign for weeks had downplayed expectations for the primary, saying he expected to lose.
"When the incumbent mayor loses a primary by a 2-to-1 margin, it's a referendum on his performance," said Coleman, who defeated Kelly in the incumbent's own East Side precinct. "It has nothing to do with party loyalty. It's about value and judgment. He's had four years to establish trust with the voters, and clearly the voters are not happy."
Prof. Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute agreed, saying of Kelly, "It's a real sign that he's got the fight of his life here."
What did you think would happen, Randy? Hey, after you lose the mayoral race, I bet good ol' Senator Norm Coleman would give you a job. Maybe you two could start your own little club. You could call yourselves "The Minnesota Traitors."
Alan Dershowitz: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist
Mon Sep 5
My mother always told me that when a person dies, one should not say anything bad about him. My mother was wrong. History requires truth, not puffery or silence, especially about powerful governmental figures. And obituaries are a first draft of history. So here’s the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist you won’t hear on Fox News or from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.
Let’s begin at the beginning. Rehnquist bragged about being first in his class at Stanford Law School. Today Stanford is a great law school with a diverse student body, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s, it discriminated against Jews and other minorities, both in the admission of students and in the selection of faculty. Justice Stephen Breyer recalled an earlier period of Stanford’s history: “When my father was at Stanford, he could not join any of the social organizations because he was Jewish, and those organizations, at that time, did not accept Jews.” Rehnquist not only benefited in his class ranking from this discrimination; he was also part of that bigotry. When he was nominated to be an associate justice in 1971, I learned from several sources who had known him as a student that he had outraged Jewish classmates by goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering with brown-shirted friends in front of a dormitory that housed the school’s few Jewish students. He also was infamous for telling racist and anti-Semitic jokes.
As a law clerk, Rehnquist wrote a memorandum for Justice Jackson while the court was considering several school desegregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. Rehnquist’s memo, entitled “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases,” defended the separate-but-equal doctrine embodied in the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Rehnquist concluded the Plessy “was right and should be reaffirmed.” When questioned about the memos by the Senate Judiciary Committee in both 1971 and 1986, Rehnquist blamed his defense of segregation on the dead Justice, stating – under oath – that his memo was meant to reflect the views of Justice Jackson. But Justice Jackson voted in Brown, along with a unanimous Court, to strike down school segregation. According to historian Mark Tushnet, Justice Jackson’s longtime legal secretary called Rehnquist’s Senate testimony an attempt to “smear the reputation of a great justice.” Rehnquist later admitted to defending Plessy in arguments with fellow law clerks. He did not acknowledge that he committed perjury in front of the Judiciary Committee to get his job.
The young Rehnquist began his legal career as a Republican functionary by obstructing African-American and Hispanic voting at Phoenix polling locations (“Operation Eagle Eye”). As Richard Cohen of The Washington Post wrote, “[H]e helped challenge the voting qualifications of Arizona blacks and Hispanics. He was entitled to do so. But even if he did not personally harass potential voters, as witnesses allege, he clearly was a brass-knuckle partisan, someone who would deny the ballot to fellow citizens for trivial political reasons -- and who made his selection on the basis of race or ethnicity.” In a word, he started out his political career as a Republican thug.
Rehnquist later bought a home in Vermont with a restrictive covenant that barred sale of the property to ''any member of the Hebrew race.”
Rehnquist’s judicial philosophy was result-oriented, activist, and authoritarian. He sometimes moderated his views for prudential or pragmatic reasons, but his vote could almost always be predicted based on who the parties were, not what the legal issues happened to be. He generally opposed the rights of gays, women, blacks, aliens, and religious minorities. He was a friend of corporations, polluters, right wing Republicans, religious fundamentalists, homophobes, and other bigots.
Rehnquist served on the Supreme Court for thirty-three years and as chief justice for nineteen. Yet no opinion comes to mind which will be remembered as brilliant, innovative, or memorable. He will be remembered not for the quality of his opinions but rather for the outcomes decided by his votes, especially Bush v. Gore, in which he accepted an Equal Protection claim that was totally inconsistent with his prior views on that clause. He will also be remembered as a Chief Justice who fought for the independence and authority of the judiciary. This is his only positive contribution to an otherwise regressive career.
Within moments of Rehnquist’s death, Fox News called and asked for my comments, presumably aware that I was a longtime critic of the late Chief Justice. After making several of these points to Alan Colmes (who was supposed to be interviewing me), Sean Hannity intruded, and when he didn’t like my answers, he cut me off and terminated the interview. Only after I was off the air and could not respond did the attack against me begin, which is typical of Hannity’s bullying ambush style. He is afraid to attack when there’s someone there to respond. Since the interview, I’ve received dozens of e-mail hate messages, some of which are overtly anti-Semitic. One writer called me “a jew prick that takes it in the a** from ruth ginzburg [sic].” Another said I am “an ignorant socialist left-wing political hack …. You’re like a little Heinrich Himmler! (even the resemblance is uncanny!).” Yet another informed me that I “personally make us all lament the defeat of the Nazis!” A more restrained viewer found me to be “a disgrace to the Law, to Harvard, and to humanity.”
All this, for refusing to put a deceptive gloss on a man who made his career undermining the rights and liberties of American citizens.
My mother would want me to remain silent, but I think my father would have wanted me to tell the truth. My father was right.
Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His latest book is The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved (Wiley, 2005).
Monday, September 12, 2005
I went to the DNC website and wrote to Howard Dean myself. I'm sure he'll never read it, but maybe someone will. I let them know my idea on how to start winning back the hearts & minds of all Americans, especially those that foolishly voted for Bush because they didn't know any better.
My idea centers around a huge ad campaign. Using every kind of media available:
1. Remind everyone about every big (9/11, Iraq, bin Laden not captured, Katrina, Rove leak, Delay's activities, Teri Shiavo, out-of-date power grid, Leave No Child a Dime act, environmental atrocities, etc, etc, etc) and small (too numerous too mention) failure of the Bush administration.
2. Tell everyone how the Democrats would have done things differently.
3. Tell them what the Democrats will do for them if & when we get the power back.
Sure, the Repubs would try to counter our ad campaign with their own, but they really don't have a leg to stand on anymore.
Howard, are you listening?
Sunday, September 11, 2005
On this, the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I'm just curious, how does it feel?
How does it feel to know that the man you elected to lead us after we were attacked went ahead and put a guy in charge of FEMA whose main qualification was that he ran horse shows?
That's right. Horse shows.
I really want to know -- and I ask you this in all sincerity and with all due respect -- how do you feel about the utter contempt Mr. Bush has shown for your safety? C'mon, give me just a moment of honesty. Don't start ranting on about how this disaster in New Orleans was the fault of one of the poorest cities in America. Put aside your hatred of Democrats and liberals and anyone with the last name of Clinton. Just look me in the eye and tell me our President did the right thing after 9/11 by naming a horse show runner as the top man to protect us in case of an emergency or catastrophe.
I want you to put aside your self-affixed label of Republican/conservative/born-again/capitalist/ditto-head/right-winger and just talk to me as an American, on the common ground we both call America.
Are we safer now than before 9/11? When you learn that behind the horse show runner, the #2 and #3 men in charge of emergency preparedness have zero experience in emergency preparedness, do you think we are safer?
When you look at Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, a man with little experience in national security, do you feel secure?
When men who never served in the military and have never seen young men die in battle send our young people off to war, do you think they know how to conduct a war? Do they know what it means to have your legs blown off for a threat that was never there?
Do you really believe that turning over important government services to private corporations has resulted in better services for the people?
Why do you hate our federal government so much? You have voted for politicians for the past 25 years whose main goal has been to de-fund the federal government. Do you think that cutting federal programs like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers has been good or bad for America? GOOD OR BAD?
With the nation's debt at an all-time high, do you think tax cuts for the rich are still a good idea? Will you give yours back so hundreds of thousands of homeless in New Orleans can have a home?
Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake.
That's not a joke. The day the hurricane hit and the levees broke, Mr. Bush, John McCain and their rich pals were stuffing themselves with cake. A full day after the levees broke (the same levees whose repair funding he had cut), Mr. Bush was playing a guitar some country singer gave him. All this while New Orleans sank under water.
It would take ANOTHER day before the President would do a flyover in his jumbo jet, peeking out the widow at the misery 2500 feet below him as he flew back to his second home in DC. It would then be TWO MORE DAYS before a trickle of federal aid and troops would arrive. This was no seven minutes in a sitting trance while children read "My Pet Goat" to him. This was FOUR DAYS of doing nothing other than saying "Brownie (FEMA director Michael Brown), you're doing a heck of a job!"
My Republican friends, does it bother you that we are the laughing stock of the world?
And on this sacred day of remembrance, do you think we honor or shame those who died on 9/11/01? If we learned nothing and find ourselves today every bit as vulnerable and unprepared as we were on that bright sunny morning, then did the 3,000 die in vain?
Our vulnerability is not just about dealing with terrorists or natural disasters. We are vulnerable and unsafe because we allow one in eight Americans to live in horrible poverty. We accept an education system where one in six children never graduate and most of those who do can't string a coherent sentence together. The middle class can't pay the mortgage or the hospital bills and 45 million have no health coverage whatsoever.
Are we safe? Do you really feel safe? You can only move so far out and build so many gated communities before the fruit of what you've sown will be crashing through your walls and demanding retribution. Do you really want to wait until that happens? Or is it your hope that if they are left alone long enough to soil themselves and shoot themselves and drown in the filth that fills the street that maybe the problem will somehow go away?
I know you know better. You gave the country and the world a man who wasn't up for the job and all he does is hire people who aren't up for the job. You did this to us, to the world, to the people of New Orleans. Please fix it. Bush is yours. And you know, for our peace and safety and security, this has to be fixed. What do you propose?
I have an idea, and it isn't a horse show.
Friday, September 09, 2005
This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally and ethically.
The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.
Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.
Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line. Here it is:
You are in Maine, Kennebunkport to be specific. There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.
This is a flood of biblical proportions.
You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster.
The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos.
There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water.
Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury. Suddenly you see a man floundering in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.
You move closer, somehow the man looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is.
It's George W. Bush!
At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to pull him under.
You have two options -- you can save the life of G.W. Bush or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most powerful men.
So here's the question, and please give an honest answer:
Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Let's just hope that the anger we are all feeling toward Bush & Co starts to move our country in the right direction. My sense is that we are finally getting there. Damien said that even FOX News is coming around.
Patience, my friends, patience.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
There is much to be said and done about the manmade annihilation of New Orleans, caused NOT by a hurricane but by the very specific decisions made by the Bush administration in the past four and a half years. Do not listen to anyone who says we can discuss all this later. No, we can't. Our country is in an immediate state of vulnerability. More hurricanes, wars, and other disasters are on the way, and a lazy bunch of self-satisfied lunatics are still running the show.
So, in the next few days, I will write to you about what must be done about Bush and Co.
But today I want you to join with me in bypassing the colossally inept and incompetent Bush administration and get help DIRECTLY to the people of the New Orleans area -- right now.
A lot of you have written me to ask what you can do. Many don't know who to trust. Many want to do more than write a check. You are right to think that writing checks to relief agencies will not get water and aid to people in the next 48 hours. Checks will be needed later and can be written later.
I have a way, though, for each and every one of us to do something today that can affect people's lives TODAY.
For the past few days I've been working with a group that, I guarantee you, will get direct aid to the people who need it most.
Cindy Sheehan, the brave woman who dared to challenge Mr. Bush at his summer home, has now sent her Camp Casey from in front of Bush's ranch to the outskirts of New Orleans. The Veterans for Peace have taken all the equipment and staff of volunteers and set up camp in Covington, Louisiana, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. They are accepting materials and personally distributing them to those in need.
This is where we come in. We need to ship supplies to them immediately. Today they need the following:
Paper plates, paper towels, toilet paper, baby diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, Pedialyte, baby items in general, powder, lotion, handy wipes, sterile gloves, electrolytes, LARGE cans of veggies, school supplies, and anything else to lift people's spirits.
You can ship these items by following the instructions on VFPRoadTrips.org. Or you can deliver them there in person. The roads to Covington are open. Here's how to get there. You can drop them off or you can stay and participate (if you stay, you'll be camping so bring your own tent and gear and mosquito spray).
If you can't ship these items or go there in person, then go to VFPRoadTrips.org and make an immediate donation through PayPal. Camp Casey-Covington will have immediate access to this cash and can buy the items themselves from stores that are open in Louisiana (all donations to Veterans for Peace, are tax deductible).
Each day I will post up-to-the minute information as to what is needed and the progress Camp Casey is making. Please visit MichaelMoore.com often and do what you can to help.
Many other groups are also doing good work. MoveOn.org has set up a system for people to offer rooms in their homes to the survivors.
There is no time to waste. People are suffering and dying. Each of us can do something. There is no other alternative.
Thank you in advance for your help. Tomorrow, we will take care of the other work we need to do about the ideologically hamstrung incompetents in charge.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Saturday, September 03, 2005
The Democrat's strategy (seems to be) to proceed with the "do nothing plan," while the Republicans continue to f*ck everything up...because we all know how well that worked for us in 2000 and 2004.
(yea, I know we technically won, but a lot of good that did us)
Friday, September 02, 2005
Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:
Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.
Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?
Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?
And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!
On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.
There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.
No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!
You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.
P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.