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December 19, 2005

Re: Dangerous Territory [NYT]

[Sent to Bob Herbert at the New York Times re: Dangerous Territory 12/19/2005]

Always appreciate your column.  Today's made me think that perhaps we should reconsider our Pledge of Allegiance to make it more relevant.

Instead of pledging allegiance to a symbol of our country, why not to the constitution itself, with the hope that it might spur us all to more active vigilance of our rights instead of mere patriotic feelings:

A new pledge

As the extraordinary breadth of President Bush’s unconstitutional assertions of power at the sacrifice of our values and constitutional rights becomes ever more clear, perhaps we should reconsider our Pledge of Allegiance to make it more relevant.

Instead of pledging allegiance to a symbol of our country, why don’t we pledge to the constitution itself, with the hope that it might spur us all to more active vigilance of our rights instead of mere patriotic feelings:

Book: What Would Jefferson Do? A Return to Democracy

Thom Hartmann: What Would Jefferson Do? A Return to DemocracyThom Hartmann: What Would Jefferson Do? A Return to Democracy

This is a remarkably useful read.  In Thom Hartmann’s usual lucid style and well-documented research, he quite successfully takes on two main tasks:

(1) addressing numerous core right-wing-promulgeted myths about democracy in America, and shows that they are false assertions by referencing the actual writing of multiple founders and the context of the times, and

(2) providing a set of straightforward Jeffersonian prescriptions we can all work on for recapturing the kind of democracy intended by the founders, especially the leading light, Thomas Jefferson.

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December 16, 2005

Re: Federal Judge Sharply Critical Of Lower Court Decision To Remove Pro-Creationism Stickers From Textbooks [HP]

[Comment to the Huffington Post 12/16/2005; slightly edited]

What is the criteria for stickers?  That they be technically accurate?  Here are some suggestions to festoon our kids' textooks:

Intelligent Design is a belief, not a scientific theory.

There is no proof of God.

The Bible contradicts itself.

History is all in the past.

Evolution is the study of how life evolves, not the origin of life  -- that would be abiogenesis.

Intelligent Design can be a fascinating study of propaganda.

December 08, 2005

Re: In 'victory,' both power and peril [CSM]

[Submitted to the Christian Science Monitor 12/8/2005 re: In 'victory,' both power and peril]

We must be very close to “complete victory”, since after all, we have already achieved “mission accomplished.”

We’ve been through this sort of propoganda enough in the last few years to know how it will play out: At some point, Bush will simply declare that we have “complete victory” and get out.

But it will be a hollow victory that will take decades for our country to fully  recover from.

Re: Conspiracy to Torture [Nation]

[Submitted to The Nation 12/8/2005]

Regarding the President's assertion of exceptionality to the law as Commander in Chief, our constitution instead says, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”  It lays out no special powers, no exceptions to the law or constitution emmanating from that military role.  It merely states that he is the head of the military, as confirmed in intent within the Federalist Papers which says, “It is nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first general and admiral of the Union.”

And furthermore, the constitution clearly allows limits on the use of the military, when it says that, “The Congress shall have Power ... To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”

So even the military (and thus the President as Commander in Chief) is subject to specific limitations in the use of the military and the conduct of war.

December 05, 2005

Re: US to Europe: Detentions avert terror [CSM]

[Submitted to the Christian Science Monitor 12/5/2005 Re: US to Europe: Detentions avert terror (CSM).]

I can understand evoking the American mythology of the Wild West, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is taking this a bit far.  When you boil it down, her argument for “renditions” seems to be that vigilante justice is OK because it gets the bad guys.  Or as Rumsfeld might say, “You can’t make a terrorist omlet without breaking a few sovereign eggs.”

So much for the rule of law.

First a war on jacked up intelligence, then abuse and torture, now renditions.  No wonder Bush fears an international court.

December 02, 2005

Ban Torture and Retain Access to Courts

[To Wyden, Smith, Wu]

I am writing today to voice my support for two principles that may be decided in the next few weeks. 

First, I believe we should have an absolute ban on torture, as proposed in McCain’s bill.  There is no excuse for torture.  We are better than that. 

I am frankly disgusted that the Bush administration supports torture.

Second, I do not believe we should limit the right of prisoners to the courts.  The “war on terror” is a war with no endpoint at which prisoners of war would be returned automatically; they are not held in logistically challenging battlefield conditions. 

I am appalled at the Bush administration efforts to deny the people they are detaining basic rights.

The goal of the American system of government is not efficiency and expediency, it is fairness and protection from arbitrariness.  These mean nothing if there is no access to courts.

Please ban torture and retain access to courts, or the ban is a sham.

Re: Gov.'s Aide Raises Ire in the GOP [LAT]

[Submitted 12/1/2005 to the LA Times re: Gov.'s Aide Raises Ire in the GOP]

Governor Schwarzenegger's choice for Chief of Staff  "sends the wrong message to the Republican base".  It is high time politicians made an effort to represent their constituents not just their party base.  The extreme partisanship attitude by the "base" that claims only their views should be represented is undermining the purpose of America's system of representative democracy here at home -- by, for and of the people, not just the winning party's base.

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