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April 27, 2005

Easy to "negotiate" with Bolton [NYT]

[Submitted to New York Tiimes 04/27/2005]

When Dick Cheney defended Bolton as "tough" last week, I reflected on two things: Richard Holbrooke, Clinton's former UN Ambassador, and people I've negotiated with over the years like these men.

Holbrooke is tough.  He pushes and prods and digs to find the real motivations and needs -- the other side's and his side's.  He has achieved stunning breakthroughs because boy can he negotiate.  I'd hate to be across the table from him.

But Bolton isn't tough, he's just a bully.  His type is blinded by their own perceived power position -- they "negotiate" on irrelevant things, but are completely inflexible about your needs and lack creativity to achieve mutual results.

The bully type is easy to deal with once you realize there is no negotiation to be had, just insistence.  North Korea and Iran have weathered five years of Bush II and will know they can stall the last three years.

April 25, 2005

Unbiased judiciary amendment [NYT]

[Submitted to New York Times 04/25/2005]

Open letter to all United States Senators, Members of Congress and American citizens:

Recently House Majority Leader Tom Delay threatened the judiciary.  Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is trying to "nuke" the filibuster to make it easier to confirm Bush's nominees.  Radical right religious groups allied with Republican leaders are plotting to simply not provide funding to courts whose opinions they dislike.

On Sunday, Bill Frist helped clarify the fault lines in his own plans when he  said, "Our judiciary must be independent, impartial and fair."  But none of the actions by Frist, Delay and the religious right Republicans are aimed at ensuring an "independent, impartial and fair" judiciary, they are aimed at at controlling the judiciary.

As a citizen, I care a lot about an impartial judiciary, but only care about the nominations process if it interferes with the first part.  These Republican actions are specifically interfering with an impartial judiciary.  This is creating a constitutional crisis -- not only between branches of government (independence of the judiciary from the congress and White House) but as importantly between Congress and We the People.

Instead, In the national debate over the federal judicial nominations confirmation process, I urge us all to move beyond representing their party and to represent the greatest values embodied in our Constitution which opens with this  stirring introduction:

We the People of the United States, in Order to
    form a more perfect Union,
    establish Justice,
    insure domestic Tranquillity,
    provide for the common Defense,
    promote the general Welfare,
    and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Senators, Members of Congress and all Americans, let's step back and think like a framer of the Constitution, because the goals of our Constitution should be our focus, not parliamentary manipulations.  Represent not a party but rather all Americans and reflect on:

  • What American values are at stake with judicial nominations?
  • What should be the American way to invest judges with the responsibility to serve "We the People of the United States" for the rest of their lives?

Americans do not want a confirmation process that perpetuates and increases divisiveness by fighting to the point of "nuclear war" to get every nominee approved, but rather a process that helps insure our Domestic Tranquility through broad-based trust in how we Establish Justice for all.

After all, the vast majority of Americans simply want a judiciary that the vast majority of Americans think is unbiased.

Not judges most strongly identified with a label of right or left, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican.  Not judges faithful to one president or another's agenda, but faithful to the values that gave birth to our extraordinary Constitution.  Our Constitution that created a government with responsibility to serve our common desire for a government of and for all its diverse citizens.

So please step back and personally embody the values expressed by our Constitution by joining together to support a constitutional amendment that would require a 2/3 affirmative vote for judges so that We the People know that the vast majority of us are represented as agreeing to the confirmation of each person who will sit in judgment during a lifetime of shifting political winds.

On behalf of American citizens everywhere, put aside the filibuster fight, the threat to "defund" courts you don't like, and threats to judges acting in good faith, and launch the constitutional amendment now.

With this amendment, we can make our generation's contribution to securing "the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".

Will Neuhauser

April 23, 2005

Commentary for Seder 2005

[I was asked by a friend to write a paragraph for a Jewish Seder about the political situation.  Here's what I came up with:]

This "telling," enables us to inform our present from our history and to provide hope for our future.  Our history tells of oppression and intolerance but also of overcoming those obstacles.  Our present America is flirting dangerously with its periodic fascination with the dark forces of fundamentalism, greed, and power, today stewing in a unique witch's brew of American fascism.  In the guise of moral values, meddling self-righteously in our most personal affairs while ignoring the moral obligation to help those less fortunate improve their lives, the radical right are like the school-yard bully seeking superiority from taking other people down, rather than providing the leadership to build people up.  Our future is not yet clear, but many forces have been awakened.  These forces are now arrayed against this tyranny in an effort to awaken America from this nearly psychotic break from scientific reality, constitutional government, and truely moral values that lead to a concern for the common good over private gain.  A rebellion has begun, but rebellions do not come without cost and this one will not be complete without great effort and sacrifices yet to come.

April 22, 2005

Propose judicial confirmation amendment

[Sent 04/22/2005 by email to People for the American Way and The Interfaith Alliance]

Dear Ralph G. Neas and Welton G. Gaddy,

As a member and strong supporter of People for the American Way and of The Interfaith Alliance, I am deeply concerned about the attempt to "nuke" the filibuster but worry the debate is getting lost in the "inside baseball" of Senate procedures and history as well as the focus on the letter of the Constitution.

As I was preparing a letter about the filibuster in The Oregonian, I had an idea I thought I would pass along about finding a way to rise above the petty party power politics of parliamentary positioning and address more explicitly the fundamental American issue at stake: What kind of government do we want to have?

Continue reading "Propose judicial confirmation amendment" »

April 21, 2005

Judges for America [The Oregonian]

[To the Oregonian 04/21/2005, publshed 04/24/2005 as Try two-thirds affirmative vote]

To the Editors:

Like others, David Reinhard's comments on the "nuclear option" to explode the filibuster misses the important point by focusing on the Senate's parlimentary intracacies.  Instead of arguing about political party power we should be making sure we have a good government for "We the people".

Think like the framers of the constitution: What makes for a judiciary that we can all have faith in?  The answer is simple: a judiciary that the vast majority of Americans believe is unbiased.  That requires more than a mere bare majority of those that represent us agreeing on judges.

In the interests of a government for us citizens, rather than for whichever party is in power, Gordon Smith should propose to make a two-thirds affirmative vote the "supreme Law of the Land" through a constitutional ammendment and thus obsolete the filibuster.

April 20, 2005

Make mainstream judiciary the supreme law of the land

The Honorable Senator Gordon Smith:

The vast majority of Americans want a judiciary that the vast majority of Americans believe is unbiased.  The filibuster helps ensure a mainstream, unpredjudiced judiciary.  Blowing up the filibuster is not about making sure we have a good government for "We the people".

Senator, I encourage you to think like the framers of the constitution about what makes for a judiciary that we can all have faith in and use that as a basis for your ultimate decision.

Frankly, rather than nuke the filibuster, it would be a good constitutional ammendment to make a 60% affirmative vote the "supreme Law of the Land" and not subject to political maneuvering by any political party.  Ever.

Sincerely yours,

Will Neuhauser

April 19, 2005

Vast majority want mainstream judiciary [Portland Tribune]

[To The Portland Tribune 04/19/2005]

To the Editors -

The vast majority of Americans want a judiciary that the vast majority of Americans believe is unbiased.  The filibuster helps ensure a mainstream, unpredjudiced judiciary.  But the fierce Republican Senate effort to blow up the filibuster is about power for themselves today, not about making sure we have a good government for we the people.

April 14, 2005

Mainstream judiciary [The Oregonian]

[To The Oregonian 04/14/2005]

To the Editors -

The vast majority of Americans want a judiciary that the vast majority of Americans believe is unbiased.  The filibuster helps ensure a mainstream judiciary.

April 06, 2005

Response to post on Democracy Arsenal

(Comment posted to Progressives Anonymous)

I don't have a two-word catch-phrase, but perhaps we build back to that from articulating our core values and principles in national security.

I believe you have to tackle the security and the military component of security head on or it will not resonate with America outside a snug little group.

It seems to me that our goal is to "activate" in people their core values that call for strength, but in many ways not just military: in an array of areas of leadership.  At the same time, we should have an approach the reinforces the core progressive "brand" of assuring freedom of opportunity -- sharing fairly in growing prosperity.

Continue reading "Response to post on Democracy Arsenal" »

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