Amnesty Who?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I spent the day reading all the various statements from Cheney, Scott McClellan, President Bush and General Myers regarding the recent human rights report from Amnesty International. I would like to start first by listing a few of the quotes from the above mentioned individuals.
1. President Bush: "I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world." (White House Press Conference May 31, 2005)
"It seemed like (Amnesty) based some of their decisions on the word and allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people had been trained in some instances to disassemble-that means not tell the truth, and so it was an absurd report. It just is" (White House Press Conference May 31, 2005)
2. Scott McClellan-White House Press Secretary: "I think the allegations are ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity." (White House Press Briefing May 25, 2005)
3. Vice President Dick Cheney: "Frankly, I was offended by it, for Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously." (Interview on Larry King May 30, 2005)
"Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment, but if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and released to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated." (Interview Larry King May 30, 2005)
4. General Richard Myers: "I think it's irresponsible. I think it's absolutely irresponsible. If you look back at the policy of this government, what we said we treat people-the president said, and we've all said-humanely and where military necessity permits, and in accordance with the Geneva Convention, we're doing that. (Gen. Myers Fox News Sunday May 29, 2005)
"I mean, these are the people that took four airplanes and drove them into three buildings on September 11th. They're the same folks with the same mentality." (Gen. Myers Fox News Sunday May 29, 20005)
There is a good article on with quotes from Donald Rumsfeld prior to the invasion of Iraq. Clearly the United States took the word of Amnesty International very seriously when their facts supported our rush to war in Iraq, but now that they are critical of the U.S. they are no longer a credible organization.
How many more organizations does this administration have to ignore or try to discredit before people actually stop and think maybe its not everyone else, maybe just maybe it is this administration that is the biggest threat to human rights.

Federal Court Nominees Part 4: Janice Rogers Brown

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Not that it matters after the deal the democrats and republicans struck yesterday in regards to the filibuster and Judicial nominees, but since the other two judges that have a green light are here on the website, let's take a look at number three: Janice Rogers Brown.
In 1993 then governor of California Pete Wilson submitted Justice Brown's name as a potential successor for the vacancy on the California Supreme Court. The California Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) Commission rated Justice Brown not qualified. After serving on the California Court of Appeals which considers a narrower list of criteria for judges, Justice Brown was nominated again in 1996 for the California Supreme Court making her the first ever nominee with a not qualified rating from the JNE Commission. Justice Brown once again received a not qualified rating from the JNE Commission but was confirmed by a three member panel to the California Supreme Court. This was despite two not qualified ratings from the JNE Commission and the fact that during her enitre tenure on the court of appeals she published only 6 of the 155 cases she presided over. Its worth noting here that California Constitution required judges on the state supreme court and courts of appeals to be approved by voters at the first election after confirmation. Judges run unopposed and only need to receive a majority of the vote to stay on the court.
There are too many cases and opinions from Justice Brown to list, so here are some quotes from her speeches regarding her rulings:
"Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible." [“A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Speech to Federalist Society (April 20. 2000)(“Federalist speech” at 8]
"Where government advances – and it advances relentlessly – freedom is imperiled; community impoverished; religion marginalized and civilization itself jeopardized....When did government cease to be a necessary evil and become a goody bag to solve our private problems?" [“Hyphenasia: the Mercy Killing of the American Dream,” Speech at Claremont-McKenna College (Sept. 16, 1999) at 3,4]
"[W]e no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens." [IFJ speech at 3-4]
"My grandparents’ generation thought being on the government dole was disgraceful, a blight on the family’s honor. Today’s senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren because they have a right to get as much “free” stuff as the political system will permit them to extract...Big government is...[t]he drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms, for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers, and militant senior citizens." [IFJ speech at 2,3]
"I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country’s founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document...1937...marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution...Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and effected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers’ conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests... In the New Deal/Great Society era, a rule that was the polar opposite of the classical era of American law reigned" [Federalist speech at 8, 10, 11, 12]
"[P]rivate property, already an endangered species in California, is now entirely extinct in San Francisco…I would find the HCO [San Francisco Residential Hotel Unit Conversion and Demolition Ordinance] preempted by the Ellis Act and facially unconstitutional. …Theft is theft even when the government approves of the thievery. Turning a democracy into a kleptocracy does not enhance the stature of the thieves; it only diminishes the legitimacy of the government. …The right to express one’s individuality and essential human dignity through the free use of property is just as important as the right to do so through speech, the press, or the free exercise of religion." [Dissenting opinion in San Remo Hotel L.P. v. City and County of San Francisco, 41 P.3d 87, 120, 128-9 (Cal. 2002)(upholding San Francisco ordinance calling on hotel owners seeking permission to eliminate residential units and convert to tourist hotels help replace lost rental units for low income, elderly, and disabled persons)][See also IFJ speech at 4 (warning that without effective limits on government, “a democracy is inevitably transformed into a Kleptocracy.”)]
"Politicians in their eagerness to please and to provide something of value to their constituencies that does not have a price tag are handing out new rights like lollipops in the dentist’s office." [Speech to Sacramento County bar Ass’n (May 1, 1996) at 6-7]
"[T]he courts overcame these alleged limitations on their powers with ridiculous ease. How? By constitutionalizing everything possible, finding constitutional rights which are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. By taking a few words which are in the Constitution like “due process” and “equal protection” and imbuing them with elaborate and highly implausible etymologies; and by enunciating standards of constitutional review which are not standards at all but rather policy vetoes, i.e., strict scrutiny and the compelling state interest standard." [Libertarian speech at 7-8]
"The United States Supreme Court, however, began in the 1940s to incorporate the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment…The historical evidence supporting what the Supreme Court did here is pretty sketchy…The argument on the other side is pretty overwhelming that it’s probably not incorporated." [“Beyond the Abyss: Restoring Religion on the Public Square,” Speech to Pepperdine Bible Lectureship in 1999]
"Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism’s virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance, but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism. We do not conclude that socialism suffers from a fundamental flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice – including our freedom….1937…marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution." [Federalist speech at 6-7, 10]
"In truth, liberalism’s vaunted tolerance and openness is a lie. In America, at least, liberalism is tolerant only of those concerns to which it is indifferent. To those trivialized forms of religious observance which amount to no more than a consumer preference, the culture maintains a posture of tolerance." [Speech to St. Thomas More Society (Oct. 15, 1998) at 8]
"As a conservative judge, I initially accepted the conventional wisdom that substantive due process was a myth invented by judicial activists who were up to no good"[Fifty Ways To Lose Your Freedom Speech 8-12-2000]
"There are so few true conservatives left in America that we probably should be included on the endagered species list"[A Whiter Shade of Pale Speech 4-20-2000]
The D.C. Circuit is viewed as second only to the Supreme Court in areas of law and policy. They have exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from the D.C. District Courts, and Congress has given the court jurisdiction over interpretation of many federal statutes. This means the D.C. Circuit establishes precedent in areas of labor, environmental law, and worker safety. The court is also known as a stepping-stone for Supreme Court nominations with three of the current Supreme Court Justices having served on the D.C. Circuit.
I almost forgot, she is a sharecroppers daughter.

Federal Court Nominees Part 3: Judge Priscilla Owen

Friday, May 20, 2005

Here is a look at the nomination of Priscilla Owen. Judge Owen was first rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002, then successfully filibustered in 2003. She was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1994 and re-elected in 2000. During the 16-year career of Judge Owens, she has argued only one federal appellate case and one state appellate case. She has never faced a criminal issue as a lawyer or judge. Judge Owen listed ten cases on her Senate Judiciary Committee Questionnaire and represented oil and gas companies (Transco-5 times, Lone Star, IP Petroleum) in eight of the ten cases. The other two cases were mere boundary disputes between neighbors.
Judge Owen's favor of corporations is well documented throughout her career. In the case Hyundai Motor Co. v Alvarado, Judge Owen sided with Hyundai Motor ignoring the National Traffic And Motor Vehicle Saftey Act of 1966. In the case Read v Scott Fetzer Co. , Judge Owen sided with the Kirby Vacuum Company (Scott Fetzer Co.) arguing that Kirby Co. should not be held responsible for a door to door salesmen they hired without a backround check who raped a women while working. In the case Peeler v Hughes & Luce, Judge Owen sided with the law firm Hughes & Luce. Carol Peeler pleaded guilty to tax fraud while being represented by Hughes & Luce and received a fine and probation as the result of her plea. It was later learned that prosecutors told her attorney that she could receive "unconditional" transactional immunity in exchange for her cooperation. Hughes & Luce failed to inform their client of this offer, which no doubt Mrs. Peeler would have taken. Judge Owen ruled on the grounds that convicted criminals cannont bring malpractice suits. In 1994 Judge Owen received $14,000 in campaign contributions from the firm Hughes & Luce. In the case Enron Corp. v Spring Independent School District , Judge Owen ruled in favor of Enron. The ruling allowed Texas companies to choose between two dates to evaluate their inventory for tax purposes. As a result, Enron saved $225,000 at the loss of the school district. In 1994 Judge Owen recieved $8,600 in campaign contributions from Enron Corp.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was declared to be in a state of emergency in 1999 by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. During the eight years of the Clinton presidency, republican senators blocked Enrique Moreno, Jorge Rangel, and Alston Johnson all the while three seats on the Fifth Circuit sat empty.

The Numbers Don't Lie

Thursday, May 19, 2005

New York Times chart of Judicial conformation rates for recent Presidents.

Censorship In The South: New Age Book Burning

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What the hell is going on in this country? Alabama representative Gerald Allen has proposed a bill in the Alabama Legislature to keep "homosexual" material out of public institutions. Bill HB30 was first introduced February 1, 2005 and will be voted on soon. The bill is a page right out of Ray Bradbury's famous book Fahrenheit 451, and attempts to ban books from public use. Here is the text of Bill HB30:
To prohibit the expenditure or use of public funds or public facilities by any state agency or public entity for the purchase, production, or promotion of printed or electronic materials or activities that sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of the state.
Section 1. In order to establish and insure good public policy and accountability in the use of state resources, it shall be the policy of the state of Alabama that:
(a) No public funds or public facilities shall be used by any state agency, public school, public library, or public college or university for the purchase, production, or promotion of printed or electronic materials or activities that, directly or indirectly, sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of the state of Alabama. No public funds shall be used for the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle or encourages or proposes to public school children that they have a legitimate right to decide or choose illegal conduct.
(b) No state agency, public school, public library, or public college or university, directly or indirectly, shall require or encourage the entity's members or employees to provide information or materials or engage in any activities that, directly or indirectly, sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and misconduct laws of Alabama.
(c) Any public employee who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) This section shall not be construed to be a prior restraint of the First Amendment protected speech. It shall apply only to state agencies, public schools, public libraries, and public colleges and universities in the use of public funds and public facilities.
Section 2. The provisions of this act are severable. If any part of this act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, that declaration shall not affect the part which remains.
Section 3. All laws or parts of laws which conflict with this act are repealed.
Section 4. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.
Because of some religious, homophobic republican there is a bill out there that would actually make it a crime to read Shakespeare. This is truly disturbing and nothing short of censorship, good call Mr. Bradbury.
As a side note Mr. Allen also co-sponsored Bill HB391 which allows teachers in Alabama to teach creationism as opposed to evolution. Way to go Mr. Allen, who needs science when you have the bible fuck Darwin, fuck Shakespeare, and fuck those fags!

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