Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Archives: June 2002

Friday | June 28, 2002
Changing URLs

Sorry for the lack of posts. I spent the past 24 hours mired in techno-limbo. I moved the site over to a new domain http://www.dailykos.com. What should've been an easy transfer became a nightmare of epic porportions as all my archives and page templates disappeared. After hours of detective work, it turned out my database had become corrupted in the process. I tried a million things, and when things looked bleakest, suddenly everything worked. I have no clue what I did, but I'm not going to complain too much.

Anyway, the old fishyshark.com domain will autoforward to the new dailykos.com. Fishyshark was meant to house my own personal site, not the serious political commentary I ended up doing with Daily Kos. The new URL better reflects the content and tone of my site. If you have linked to me, I would appreciate it if you updated your link. I know it's a pain, but I will find a way to repay you.

And finally, I will never have to explain what a 'fishyshark' is!

    | 01:27 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post

Thursday | June 27, 2002
More on the Pledge

Much of the arguments against the court decision invalidating "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance can be broken down to: 1) How can you ban the pledge, especially during war?, and 2) there is no separation between church and state. Just look at the Declaration of Independence!

First of, the appeal court's decision did not ban the pledge. It simply requires that the words "under God" be ommitted. Those words weren't even in the original version of the pledge, and were simply added by Eisenhower in a politically motivated move. The Pledge is no less effective in declaring allegiance to the flag without those words.

As for the Declaration of Independence, it is not a legal document or law. It was an appeal to revolution from the colonial rebels. As such, it was ladden with emotional appeals to (at the time) radical notions of human rights. Most of the framers of the delcaration were not Christian, they were Deists. But they framed the declaration with religiosity in order to rally the people around their cause. Once the nation was established, neither the Articles of Confederation nor the Constitution included similar appeals to God. There was no need for it. Those documents were now legal frameworks for the nation, and that framework included language ensuring that the government couldn't establish an official religion nor apply religious litmus tests. Jefferson's subsequent writings simply clarified the clause that he himself had authored (just as courts today will look to the intent of the legislature in interpreting law).

So what the Declaration of Independence says about the "creator" is irrelevant as a matter of law. This decision was the right decision, if coming at an inopportune time. Nothing in this decision prohibits anyone from pledging allegiance to the flag, nor from otherwise being patriotic and loving the nation.

But if this decision leads to a Constitutional Amendment officially erasing the wall between church and state, then it would truly be tragic.

    | 08:23 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Wednesday | June 26, 2002
Pledge is unconstitutional

Update: Well, I wrote the below immediately after the decision was announced. I didn't forsee that politicians from both sides of the aisle would be calling for a Constitutional amendment. And, Sen. Daschle has asked lawmakers to get to work early Thursday to recite the pledge. How quaint. And it will all be captured by CNN and beamed back to approving constituents nationwide.

It is clear to see that hundreds of years of church/state jurisprudence is to be wiped out in one fell swoop by people upset that the Pledge of Allegiance eliminate the two words "under God." It's sickening.

I think the best hope is that the Supremes grant cert and reverse. There may still be momentum for the amendment (a la flag burning amendment), but it won't be as dangerous as the current hysteria gripping the Hill.


The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. At least in the territory covered by the 9th (AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, and WA). I will have to read the decision before commenting further, but this is a huge victory for those who believe in the separation of church and state.

Then again, the 9th is the most overturned appeals court in the nation, and easily its most liberal. If the supremes take the case they will likely squash it. And, I get nervous about cases like this before elections. They tend to motivate the GOP's right wing while providing ample fodder for fund-raising appeals. And Bush will get to show once again what a fan of Jesus he is. Ugh.

    | 12:20 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Economy in a free fall

Does anybody still think the market won't become an issue in November? Not only does it makes attacks on 'privatization' of social security more salient, but it touches on anyone with a stock portfolio or 401(k). That may be one major reason that men are increasingly identifying with the Democratic Party, defying recent trends.

Of course, the latest bombshell to hit Wall Street was the restatement of WorldCom's earnings. The markets have tumbled, and as I write this, the Dow has dropped just below the 9,000 mark. There is zero public confidence in Wall Street or its leaders. And, this anger, distrust, and distaste should be easy to transfer to corporate America's biggest boosters -- the Republican Party. In fact, some early reports note that WorldCom has donated over $1 million to the GOP. That would be par for the course.

Democrats aren't letting this opportunity pass. There is a clear distinction between rabidly pro-business Republicans and the more pragmatic Dems, and the House Dems are using that distinction to hammer their opponents. In vote after vote, Democrats are highlighting corporate America's most indefensible tacticts -- for example, incorporating overseas to avoid paying taxes. And woe to Republicans who vote against these measures:

"[Republican] Representative Gekas took sides in the fight between ordinary Americans and corrupt corporate practices," declared DCCC spokeswoman Kim Rubey. "At a time when our country is fighting a war, these companies are planting their flags overseas for a quick buck."
Democrats are calling it "economic patriotism".

Rove and company are expecting to receive a boost in November from an improving economy. That is increasingly less likely to happen. Home sales are down. Consumer sentiment is pessimistic. GOP-tied companies are being exposed for corrupt business practices. Economic 'malaise' and war weariness infects the public. The country may default on its financial obligations thanks to skyrocketing deficits and a ballooning debt. Promises that tax cuts would avert the economic downturn haven't panned out.

The economy speaks directly to every single voter. pollster John Zogby says the economy could be the "sleeper issue". I don't think I need to go out on a ledge to predict the economy will be THE issue. There is little difference between the GOP and Dems on the war. What differentiates them will be the economy. And the way things are going, I doubt Karl Rove is getting much sleep these days.

    | 08:30 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Tuesday | June 25, 2002
Blame where blame is due

Bush is pleading for Congress to raise the debt limit. Predictably, Bush argues that if we don't raise the debt limit, the terrorists have won.

Actually, he said raising the debt limit was essential "as we fight for freedom" against terrorists. Jeez...

The debt limit battle is a thorny one for the GOP. Voters and the party's fiscally conservative wing don't generally like deficits. So, looking for political cover, Republicans blamed the war, they blamed the recession, they probably blamed Bill Clinton, and then tried to hide the debt limit increase deep inside a terrorism-related bill.

House Democrats killed that chickenshit effort. They are demanding a stand-alone bill that would put a glaring spotlight on the nation's GOP-led return to massive deficits and ballooning debts. Oh, and also a debate on taxes and the raiding of social security to help balance the budget.

House Republicans want none of that. The tax cuts are sacrosant. If that's what they believe, good for them. But they should then proudly and openly vote to raise the debt limit.

The debt celing should be lifted, but not without making it painfully clear where the blame should lie. Force the GOP to pass the debt limit increase on an open, high-profile party-line vote.

    | 05:28 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Romney gets to stay

As expected, Mitt Romney will be allowed to stay in the MA governor's race. In a misguided bit of political maneuvering, MA dems tried to force Romney off the ballot invoking a never-used residency requirement. The gambit failed, as the state's election board unanimously ruled for Romney.

The Dems effort took the spotlight away from Romney's own lies about the matter and transformed him into a victim of dirty campaign tactics. Even the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation attacked their state party's efforts as misguided.

Despite the inept mishandling of the matter, Romney has taken a major hit. A a June 6 poll, taken right after the controversy first arose, showed him trailing Democratic front-runner Shannon O'Brien by 9 points.

    | 02:07 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Maine Senate race tightening

The National Journal's Charlie Cook reports this week that the Maine senate race is tightening up. While Republicans claim that Sen. Collins is safely ahead, Dem candidate Pingree's own polling shows her closing ground, down 45-33. That is far better than the 56-20 numbers polled in March.

Pingree is focusing her campaign on popular health care issues, especially the outrageous drug costs in the US (especially in comparison to drug costs in neighboring Canada). And the state has traditionally been hostile ground to the GOP (Gore and Nader collectively beat Bush by 11 percentage points in 2000). Thus, election observers definitely expect the race to tighten considerably in the coming months, especially as Pingree's name recognition increases.

The GOP claims their internal polls show Collins safely ahead, and question the veracity of the Dems poll. However, unlike Pingree's camp, the GOP has refused to release their latest internal poll to the press. That is always suspicious. Campaigns will happily share their polling data with the press if it shows their candidate in a favorable light.

Even Karl Rove expects the Maine race to be a battle. In his famously exposed PowerPoint presentation, Rove lists Maine's Senate seat as a "possible D pickup".

Collins shouldn't be underestimated. A true example of the endangered New England moderate Republican, she is actually to the left of nominal Democrats like Zel Miller of GA. Thus, she can avoid much of the hostility Maine voters might harbor against the national GOP.

Yet the health care issues resonate in Maine, and if Pingree can tie Collins to the GOP/Drug Co. love embrace, it should be an interesting race indeed.

    | 10:24 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Monday | June 24, 2002
Death Penalty and the Supremes, Part II

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Ring v. Arizona that judges cannot impose the death penalty in capital murder trials. The court ruled that the Constitution vests that responsibility on the jury.

This decision doesn't have the wide ranging consequences that last week's Atkins v. Virginia had on the future of the death penalty. It merely decided a procedural question, clarifying the constitutional roles of judges and juries in capital murder trials. But, it does mean that the death sentences of 150 inmates in five states have been overturned, and the decision could ultimately affect 800 inmates on death row, or 1/5 of the national total.

More importantly, the court has decided to hear an appeal in the case of Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman.

It will be interesting to see how the Supremes approach the issue, and how narrow or broad a ruling they will issue. But this case has everything you might want in a capital crimes appeal -- the defendant is black, he is certifiably mentally disturbed, he was convicted based on the testimony of a single snitch, no physical evidence tied him to the murder, the prosecution withheld evidence of Abdur'Rahman's mental illness, and his lawyer was the epiteme of incopetent -- presenting no witnesses and failing to contest the prosecution's theory of the case.

Heck, eight of the jurors that sentenced Abdur'Rahman to death have signed affidavits expressing outrage at the trial, and the way they were lied to.

A federal judge ruled that Abdur'Rahman had received inadequate assistance of counsel, but was reversed by the Circuit Court of Appeals.

An optimist would view this case as a perfect chance for the Supreme Court to kill the death penalty outright. That is highly unlikely, of course. Instead, we can hope that the court's renewed interest in the death penalty, and new hostility to the way it has been carried out by the states, will lead to increased restrictions in its implementation.

    | 09:51 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post