14 September 2005

A storm created by a conservative ideology that, consciously or not, leads to contempt and indifference toward those not seen as society’s winners

What Katrina Tells Us About Mr. Bush's Philosophy of Government — an excellent article by Leonard Steinhorn.
Years from now, historians will likely see the Bush administration's initially callous and indifferent response to hurricane Katrina as a parable for the type of conservatism this president and his party currently represent.

From the Roosevelt years through the Seventies, we defined the American Dream as a good job, a piece of the rock, and the ability to take care of one's family. Those who lived paycheck to paycheck earned our respect, because hard work and determination were deemed virtuous. These were the people who built America.

Today, however, the conservative movement has redefined success and worth in America. Because some of us succeed, conservatives say, there must be something flawed in those who don't. The American Dream has been redefined as striking it rich, and falling short just isn't good enough.

It’s a worldview coded into the Bush and Reagan tax cuts, which showered money on the super wealthy under the assumption that these are the real people who know how to build America. Those with money, in other words, contribute more to our nation’s health than those who merely work. They have wisdom and virtue.

Compassionate conservatism at its finest. Or perhaps it's just that Bush surrounds himself with so many yes-men, that it has a paralyzing effect.

10 September 2005

It was painful…terrible…devastating

Colin Powell says his 2003 U.N. speech where he described fictional Iraqi weapons programs was painful for him and a permanent "blot" on his record:
There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me.

6 September 2005

A man who made his career undermining the rights and liberties of American citizens

The truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist according to famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
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.

Let's see, Mr. Dershowitz has tarred Rehnquist as a bigot, racist, hypocrite, perjurer, anti-semite, and a rather unmemorable jurist. Perhaps Dershowitz was incited into this rant after his "bullying" on the Sean Hannity Fox News cable news program. While I am no fan of the segregationist chief justice, the timing of Dershowitz's blast is in poor taste.

I've always been astonished at how the general public holds in esteem judges, but dishes out heaps of scorn for lawyers. When, considering that judges are quintessential political animals, working and gaining rewards for purely partisan servitude. At various points in the nation's history, one party has been more strident than others — and over the course of the past 35 years, Republicans have exerted dominance over this branch of government, and only the Democrats have been forced the swallow the "compromise pill".