.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

 

MMfA: Dobson contradicts himself on benefits of Nazi experiments

.

Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson (below left, who holds a Ph.D. in child psychology) dedicated the August 5 broadcast of his Focus on the Family radio show to addressing the outcry over his Dr. DobsonAugust 3 comments comparing embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experiments conducted on live human patients during and prior to the Holocaust. Dobson characterized suggestions that he "apologize to the Jewish people" as "just off the wall."  In addition, Dobson went on to deny that he had suggested that Nazi experiments could have resulted in beneficial discoveries.  From the August 5 broadcast of Focus on the Family:

DOBSON: [Reading from the Anti-Defamation League's letter to him] "Your suggestion that the Nazis' experiments could have resulted in discoveries that benefited mankind ..." That's not what I was saying --

JOHN FULLER [Focus on the Family vice president, broadcasting]: I was sitting here during that broadcast Wednesday, Carrie [Carrie Gordon Earll, Focus on the Family spokesperson] was too. You were not suggesting that that was the case.

DOBSON: Well, I was suggesting that some people might see it that way, but that doesn't make it right. That was my whole point.

In fact, in his August 3 comments, which he re-broadcast during the August 5 show, he did not merely suggest "that some people might see it that way"; he suggested that he himself might "see it that way." Dobson said: "In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind."

Full Media Matters for America story.  D.H.: Dobson often "forgets" what he said, sometimes recently.  And he is surrounded by fawning staff who never tell him anything but what he wants to hear.  As one who served on one of his boards a decade ago, I've seen this up close and personal.  It is sad, to be so sure of one's own rightness that one sees a differing point of view as "off the wall," without being able to discuss it intelligently.


 

AP: Dean visits S. Texas

.

Gov. DeanBy LYNN BREZOSKY, Associated Press Writer - Fri Aug 5, 5:59 PM ET

EDINBURG, Texas - Democratic Party leader Howard Dean (right) kicked off a weekend of wooing Hispanics in South Texas on Friday, saying Democrats would welcome immigrants and recognize Hispanics as the key to the party's future.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Only a minority think Bush honest

.
WASHINGTON -- Less than half of Americans now say they think President
Bush is honest, according to an AP-Ipsos poll taken at a time of
increasing concerns about Iraq, a potential problem for a president who
won re-election declaring that "people know where I stand."
Source:  Houston Chronicle.
 
Comment on this by Bill Burkett, reprinted from the Texas Democrat2 Yahoo list:
 
Before the 2000 election, I attempted to coach and push the Democrats 
including the Gore campaign to make honesty and integrity an issue.
 
I will tell you that integrity is an issue.
 
The truth is just now beginning to sink in on Iraq.  The voters were willing
to go along for the ride until it turned nasty and long.
 
The deference on the high price of gasoline is also an issue that gets their
attention, because there has simply been nothing whatsoever done to protect
the consumer.
 
But it is the continuing news of this lie or that - the Rove scandal or 
another scandal that will be the downfall of George W. Bush and the Republicans.
 
No one has to manufacture a damned thing.  It's right out in front of  you.
 
This is a target rich environement.
 
But the targets must be identified for what they are and continuously with 
constant pressure battled.
 
The Hastert mess that now concurrently parallels the Delay mess is not a 
distraction to the Karl Rove mess; or the mess is IRAQ.
 
We must call it all what it is - A MESS.
 
Those are words that everyone can associate with.  They agree with  them.
 
Iraq is a Mess.  The jobs picture is a MESS.  Education in Texas is a MESS. 
The tax picture is a MESS.
 
Integrity in the House of Representatives is a MESS.  Integrity in the White
House with Rove and Bush is a MESS.
 
This is accurately being painted by Howard Dean as an administration of 
corruption and fear.
 
Howard can say that.  We need to continue to paint it in the words  everyone
seems to come to
 
IT'S A MESS.
 
Bill Burkett
Baird, Texas

Friday, August 05, 2005

 

AFP: US supports EU nuke proposal on Iran

.

1 hour, 1 minute ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) - In an apparent compromise with its European allies, the United States backed a proposal to resolve a dispute over Iran's suspected nuclear arms ambitions that would allow Tehran to keep a civilian program.

Britain, France and Germany offered a package of trade, technology and security incentives that would permit Iran to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy if it renounced uranium enrichment activities that could lead to a bomb.

Acting State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington had been "consulting closely" with the so-called EU-3 countries, whose latest offer to Iran drew a cool initial reaction Friday in Tehran.

"We support the EU-3's effort and the proposal they have put forward to find a diplomatic solution to this problem and to seek an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program and fuel-cycle activities," Casey said.

He said "we encourage Iran to consider positively the EU-3's offer (and) to continue to observe the Paris agreement" struck in November under which Iran suspended its sensitive fuel-cycle work while negotiations continued.

The United States fears that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program to hide a clandestine effort to develop nuclear bombs, a charge that Tehran has vigorously denied.

Washington has steadfastly insisted that Iran, which sits on the world's second-largest oil and gas reserves, had no need to pursue any nuclear activities at all.

A US official suggested Friday that US acceptance of the latest EU-3 offer represented something of a compromise with the Europeans at a time when the nuclear negotiations appeared headed towards a crisis.

"We're supporting their process. This is what they put forward. I leave it to you to interpret," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

While demanding a complete halt to fuel cycle work at the Isfahan nuclear plant in central Iran, the Americans have been more tolerant of a power station being built by Russia at Bushehr on the southwestern Iranian coast.

Iran nuke power plant at BushehrThe US administration has indicated it was acceptable for the Russians to provide fuel for the Bushehr plant on the condition that any spent fuel would be taken out of Iran afterward.

"My understanding of the EU-3 proposal is that it follows along those same lines and therefore is consistent with what we have previously said as a matter of US policy," said the US official.

A French diplomat, who asked not to be named, told reporters in Paris that the Americans still had "enormous scepticism" over the European approach to Iran's nuclear program and fretted the EU-3 were being duped.

Washington had initially balked at the European negotiations with Iran. But the Americans signed on to the effort in March as part of a concerted campaign to heal trans-Atlantic relations after the Iraq war.

Still, signs of a potential rift emerged, with the Americans insisting on dismantling all Iranian facilities that could be used for uranium conversion or enrichment and the Europeans signaling more flexibility.

The EU proposal recognizes Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and calls on it to make a "binding commitment not to pursue fuel cycle activities other than the construction and operation of light water power and research reactors."

The United States has taken a tougher line in six-party negotiations with North Korea, demanding that Pyongyang halt all its nuclear activities and not just those related to the production of weapons.

China and Russia, two of the US partners in talks that have run on for nearly two weeks in Beijing, have been more open to the possibility of the North Koreans keeping some civilian nuclear capacity.

But Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator, told reporters Friday that the United States was leery of a country that he said had already used a research reactor to help develop weapons.

"I have to be very concerned with how that's done," Hill said.

Full AFP-Yahoo News story.


 

Bill Spier: AIPAC Indictments Not Unconnected to the Plame Affair. The Usual Cabalists Are in the Mix

.

Yesterday, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Lawrence Franklin, Steven J. Rosen, and Keith Weisman-- all connected with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (extreme Likudniks) for espionage. (Indictment) Of course, U.S. Likudniks have been caught passing on national defense information to Israel before; but this time it appears to be a violation that (Espionage Act 18 U.S.C. 793 (D) may not have damaged American security and, for a change, no bagmen were involved. Bushbrainmeister Karl Rove and Scooter Libby should be wondering if they will be indicted under the same law.

The U.S. Attorney, Paul McNulty said in the news release:

“When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today's charges are about crossing that line. Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation's secrets must remain faithful to that trust. Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be.”

It seems to me that McNulty might feel the same about a CIA operative’s cover being burned. U S. Attorney Fitzgerald might be considering using the Espionage Act to indict Rove and others involved in the Plame cover burning. Look deeper and you see…

…the Cabal

It is well known that Karl Rove’s foreign affairs advisor is none other than Michael Ledeen. Ultra Likudnik Ledeen you might remember was a major figure in the Iran Contra Affair. Since then he has been a close associate of Libby, Feith, Wolfowitz, Perle and other uber neo-cons from the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen’s long time Iranian buddy Manucher Ghorbanifar is also associated with pseudo-Iraqi thief Chalabi. No surprise. If the Iraq incursion was actually succeeding, Ledeen would be the voice and propagandist behind a U.S. attack on Iran. He hates Iran and could be seen on talk shows a few years back extolling the virtues of an Iraq invasion. To Michael Ledeen, the road to Tehran leads through Baghdad. It must not have dawned on the hugely arrogant Ledeen that the Tehran road to Baghdad would someday lead through the Shia controlled southern Iraq. Prior to 2000, Rove’s foreign affairs experience probably was limited to talking to Mexican cooks in Austin. Ledeen provided him with the grist to feed George W. Bush’s fantasies, and Ledeen cohorts Wolfowitz and guru Perle et al. gained control of the military. Bad mix for the country.

What about that State Department memo circulated on Air Force One? Barry O'Connell makes an interesting connection between Ledeen and Harold Rhode—longtime Pentagon employee. O’Connell believes that Rhode (another Likudnik) was the source of the Plame Leak; and Ledeen is suspected of procuring the forged yellow cake documents in 2002. (He may be under investigation for this now) So it should not be a surprise that Ledeen is in the middle of this cabal. Joe Wilson discredited his traitorous ruse.

William D. Spier, Ph.D.
August 5, 2005


Other links:

Op-Eds by Dave Haigler.

BloggerNews.Net.

Google News.

Latest post to DemLog.

Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News: Abi-Demian.


 

Herald: 27% of library respondents were snooped

.

Patriot Act debate targets reading habits


Congressional debate over renewing the Patriot Act has centered on whether federal agents should be able to probe library and bookstore records.



smccaffrey@krwashington.com

Libraries would hardly seem to be the front line in the war on terrorism, but Congress' debate over renewing the Patriot Act centers largely on whether federal agents should be able to investigate Americans' reading habits.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have added restrictions to the 2001 antiterrorism law's so-called library provision, which has become its most bitterly debated part.

It has spawned angry protests, the purging of library records and a host of congressional amendments and bills.

All the criticism is perplexing to the Justice Department, which said earlier this year that it has yet to use the law's power to obtain library or bookstore records.

Guess How Much-Poster But the American Library Association, whose promotional poster appears at right, says its research shows that since October 2001, law enforcement officials have contacted libraries at least 200 times for things such as circulation records and computer hard drives.

That has left librarians wondering if the FBI isn't spying in the stacks, even if it may not be using the Patriot Act to do so.

''It tells us that, despite what they're saying, federal law enforcement is indeed interested in libraries,'' said Patrice McDermott, deputy director of the American Library Association's office of government relations.

In one case, FBI agents wanted to know who had checked out a book about Osama bin Laden after a library patron reported seeing a handwritten note in the margin calling hostility toward America ``a religious obligation.''

The Whatcom County library system in northwest Washington state fought the government subpoena and won.

The FBI has always been able to get library records. Agents have traditionally used grand jury subpoenas, which require that the records being sought be relevant to a criminal probe.

The subpoenas can be challenged before a judge.

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI was given the power to ask a secret spy court for permission to obtain ''tangible things'' -- including library, bookstore, medical or financial records -- if they are relevant to a national security investigation.

Recipients have no meaningful way to challenge the demand, and gag orders prevent them from revealing they have even received it.

The American Library Association, which has been lobbying to rein in those government powers, asked 1,500 public libraries and 4,000 academic libraries whether they had been contacted by law enforcement since the Patriot Act became law on Oct. 26, 2001.

Because of the law's secrecy mandates, the study allowed libraries to reply anonymously and didn't ask whether the contact was made under the Patriot Act.

Five hundred libraries responded. The majority said they had not been contacted by law enforcement, but 137 libraries reported receiving formal demands, such as a grand jury subpoena.

Forty-nine demands came from federal officials, the remainder from state or local law enforcement. Another 66 libraries reported receiving informal law-enforcement requests for information, 24 from federal officials.

The American Library Association said that if the results are extrapolated to include libraries that didn't respond, it would mean that about 600 libraries probably had been queried by law enforcement since October 2001.

The study also reported a ''chilling effect,'' with 40 percent of libraries saying patrons had asked about the Patriot Act.

''People don't want the government looking over their shoulder at what they're reading,'' said Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association's office of intellectual freedom.

Source:  Miami Herald


 

Slate-Papers: Al-Qaida Video Gains? - Aug. 5

.
By Eric Umansky - Posted Friday, at 4:53 AM CT

Citing "Western diplomats," the New York Times unveils a grand bargain European negotiators are set to offer Iran: Give up the fishy nukes development and in return get plenty of economic links including help with civilian nuclear plants. The deal apparently has U.S. backing; it hews closely to the administration's position that Iran renounce any nuclear intentions and outright dismantle its uranium-enrichment program. USA Today leads with NASA wondering whether the workers who originally applied the foam to the shuttle's external fuel tank pranced around too much and thus loosened up the foam. The Washington Post leads, weirdly, with the video of al-Qaida pooh-bah Ayman Zawahiri, below left, issuing new threats against Britain;

Photograph of AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRIhe claimed that the attacks in London were revenge for Britain sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (at least online) with four more U.S. troops killed in Iraq, including a Marine who was in the same town where the two big attacks happened earlier this week. The Los Angeles Times' top non-local spot goes to the emerging famine in Niger. Aid officials said about 200,000 children are "at risk."

Full Slate article.


 

AP: Europeans bait Iran to drop nukes

.
By Angela Doland -
 
PARIS (AP) - European negotiators on Friday handed Iran a proposal for resolving the standoff over its nuclear program, offering trade, political and security cooperation and the possibility for Tehran to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, France said.

Douste-BlazyForeign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, right, said he considered the proposals by France, Germany and Britain - which have been negotiating with Iran on behalf of the European Union - to be "ambitious and generous."

He said the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet in an extraordinary session in the middle of next week to discuss Iran.

"I hope that Iran will hear the voice of reason and that it will take the path of negotiation and dialogue, and that it will not move toward a resumption of nuclear activities," Douste-Blazy told Europe-1 radio.

"We are even ready to support a civilian, but of course, non-proliferating, nuclear program," the minister said, adding that negotiators also proposed technological, political and security cooperation.

The Europeans, backed by the United States, are offering the incentives in exchange for Iran resolving concerns that its nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons. Despite its large oil reserves, Iran insists it is interested only in producing nuclear power.

Douste-Blazy's ministry confirmed the incentives had been submitted to Tehran on Friday but declined to give details, saying France wanted to give Iran time to study them.

Full AP Breaking News story.


 

Chronicle: CNN suspends Robert Novak for on-air outburst - Aug. 5

.
By STEVE GORMAN - Reuters News Service

LOS ANGELES - CNN issued a public rebuke to syndicated columnist and political analyst Robert Novak, below left, and asked him to "take some time off" after he uttered a profanity and walked off the set during a live broadcast yesterday.

NovakThe on-air outburst by Novak, 74, came when the conservative commentator was interrupted by liberal political strategist James Carville during a discussion of the upcoming U.S. Senate race in Florida on CNN's Inside Politics show.

"Let me finish what I was going to say, James, please. I know you hate to hear me," Novak said as he and Carville jousted over the Senate election chances of Republican U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris.

Carville persisted, saying: "You got to show those right-wingers that he's got backbone. ... the Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching. Show 'em you're tough."

An angry Novak shot back, ``I think that's bull----, and I hate that.'' Then to the show's host, Ed Henry, he added, ``Just let it go,'' before standing up from his seat, unclipping his microphone and walking off the set.

Carville and Henry continued the discussion without pausing, but Henry acknowledged Novak's departure at the end of the hour, saying he was sorry "Bob Novak left the set a little early."

CNN, a unit of Time Warner Inc., later issued a statement chiding Novak for his conduct.

"Bob Novak's behavior on CNN today was inexcusable and unacceptable," the network said. "Mr. Novak has apologized to CNN, and CNN apologizes to its viewers for his language and actions. We've asked Mr. Novak to take some time off."

Source:  Houston Chronicle.


 

Hackett thanks DFA from Ohio

.
From: Paul Hackett, below right 
Subject: A Victory for Democracy

HackettYesterday, one of the reddest regions in America turned a whole lot bluer.

I ran in a special election to serve in the United States House of Representatives from the 2nd District of Ohio. I am a Marine recently returned from Iraq, a husband, a father, an attorney, and a Democrat.

When I won the Democratic primary for this contest, few people believed we had a shot at victory. But DFA put its faith in me -- and went to work organizing on the ground and online. Your support helped build the greatest Democratic get-out-the-vote effort this district has ever known.

While we didn't pull out a victory yesterday -- we came incredibly close. We got 48 percent of the vote. And in those results rests hope for the future.

It had been 15 years since a Democratic candidate for Congress received more than 30 percent of the vote in Ohio's 2nd District and decades since a Democrat held the seat. Your support helped me improve Democratic performance by nearly 20 percent. This is a victory for democracy. And if we can do this in Ohio -- we can do it anywhere.

Join me, and help DFA elect Democrats in Ohio and across the country:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/bat

We have the power to win back Congress. Yesterday proved it. And DFA is on the front lines of the fight -- determined, hopeful and fearless.

I believe we can change this country. I believe we can win in every state -- and I know that you do too. Please join me today:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/bat

Thank you,

Paul Hackett

Thursday, August 04, 2005

 

Reuters: Shuttle Commander Sees Wide Environmental Damage - Aug. 4

.
Published on Thursday by Reuters - by Jeff Franks
 
HOUSTON -- Commander Eileen Collins said astronauts on shuttle Discovery had seen widespread environmental destruction on Earth and warned on Thursday that greater care was needed to protect natural resources, as she viewed Earth from the Discovery window as seen below left.

Discovery's view of EarthDiscovery is linked with the International Space Station and orbiting 220 miles above the Earth.

"Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation. It's very widespread in some parts of the world," Collins said in a conversation from space with Japanese officials in Tokyo, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used," said Collins, who was standing with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi in front of a Japanese flag and holding a colorful fan.

Collins, making her fourth shuttle flight, said the view from space made clear that Earth's atmosphere must be protected, too.

"The atmosphere almost looks like an eggshell on an egg, it's so very thin," she said. "We know that we don't have much air, we need to protect what we have."

Full Reuters-Common Dreams story.


 

NYT-Wallis: The Message Thing

.
New York Times Op-Ed Contributor JIM WALLIS* - Published: August 4, 2005
______________________________________________________________

*Jim Wallis, below right, is the editor of Sojourners magazine, and the author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It."
______________________________________________________________

WallisSince the 2004 election, there has been much soul-searching and hand-wringing, especially among Democrats, about how to "frame" political messages. The loss to George W. Bush was painful enough, but the Republicans' post-election claims of mandate, and their triumphal promises to relegate the Democrats to permanent minority status, left political liberals in a state of panic.

So the minority party has been searching, some would say desperately, for the right "narrative": the best story line, metaphors, even magic words to bring back electoral success. The operative term among Democratic politicians and strategists has become "framing." How to tell the story has become more important than the story itself. And that could be a bigger mistake for the Democrats than the ones they made during the election.

Language is clearly important in politics, but the message remains more important than the messaging. In the interests of full disclosure, let me note that I have been talking to the Democrats about both. But I believe that first, you must get your message straight. What are your best ideas, and what are you for-as opposed to what you're against in the other party's message? Only when you answer those questions can you figure out how to present your message to the American people.

Because the Republicans, with the help of the religious right, have captured the language of values and religion (narrowly conceived as only abortion and gay marriage), the Democrats have also been asking how to "take back the faith." But that means far more than throwing a few Bible verses into policy discussions, offering candidates some good lines from famous hymns, or teaching them how to clap at the right times in black churches. Democrats need to focus on the content of religious convictions and the values that underlie them.

The discussion that shapes our political future should be one about moral values, but the questions to ask are these: Whose values? Which values? And how broadly and deeply will our political values be defined? Democrats must offer new ideas and a fresh agenda, rather than linguistic strategies to sell an old set of ideologies and interest group demands.

To be specific, I offer five areas in which the Democrats should change their message and then their messaging.

  1. First, somebody must lead on the issue of poverty, and right now neither party is doing so. The Democrats assume the poverty issue belongs to them, but with the exception of John Edwards in his 2004 campaign, they haven't mustered the gumption to oppose a government that habitually favors the wealthy over everyone else. Democrats need new policies to offer the 36 million Americans, including 13 million children, who live below the poverty line, as well as the 9.8 million families one recent study identified as "working hard but falling short."
  2. In fact, the Democrats should draw a line in the sand when it comes to wartime tax cuts for the wealthy, rising deficits, and the slashing of programs for low-income families and children. They need proposals that combine to create a "living family income" for wage-earners, as well as a platform of "fair trade," as opposed to just free trade, in the global economy. Such proposals would cause a break with many of the Democrats' powerful corporate sponsors, but they would open the way for a truly progressive economic agenda. Many Americans, including religious voters who see poverty as a compelling issue of conscience, desire such a platform.
  3. Similarly, a growing number of American Christians speak of the environment as a religious concern - one of stewardship of God's creation. The National Association of Evangelicals recently called global warming a faith issue. But Republicans consistently choose oil and gas interests over a cleaner world. The Democrats need to call for the reversal of these priorities. They must insist that private interests should never obstruct our country's path to a cleaner and more efficient energy future, let alone hold our foreign policy hostage to the dictates of repressive regimes in the Middle East.
  4. On the issues that Republicans have turned into election-winning "wedges," Democrats will win back "values voters" only with fresh ideas. Abortion is one such case. Democrats need to think past catchphrases, like "a woman's right to choose," or the alternative, "safe, legal and rare." More than 1 million abortions are performed every year in this country. The Democrats should set forth proposals that aim to reduce that number by at least half. Such a campaign could emphasize adoption reform, health care, and child care; combating teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse; improving poor and working women's incomes; and supporting reasonable restrictions on abortion, like parental notification for minors (with necessary legal protections against parental abuse). Such a program could help create some much-needed common ground. As for "family values," the Democrats can become the truly pro-family party by supporting parents in doing the most important and difficult job in America: raising children. They need to adopt serious pro-family policies, including some that defend children against Hollywood sleaze and Internet pornography. That's an issue that has come to be identified with the religious right. But when I say in public lectures that being a parent is now a countercultural activity, I've found that liberal and conservative parents agree. Rather than fighting over gay marriage, the Democrats must show that it is indeed possible to be "pro-family" and in favor of gay civil rights at the same time.
  5. Finally, on national security, Democrats should argue that the safety of the United States depends on the credibility of its international leadership. We can secure that credibility in Iraq only when we renounce any claim to oil or future military bases - something Democrats should advocate as the first step toward bringing other countries to our side. While Republicans have argued that international institutions are too weak to be relied upon in the age of terrorism, Democrats should suggest reforming them, creating a real International Criminal Court with an enforcement body, for example, as well as an international force capable of intervening in places like Darfur. Stronger American leadership in reducing global poverty would also go a long way toward improving the country's image around the world.

Until Democrats are willing to be honest about the need for new social policy and compelling political vision, they will never get the message right. Find the vision first, and the language will follow.

Source: NY Times.


 

AP: TFN denounces NCBCPS Bible curriculum for public schools

.
Austin, Tx (AP) Dr. Mark Chancey, professor of Biblical Studies at Southern Methodist University, below center, Chancey, center, with Miller, left, & Bautch, rightspeaks about a report he authored for Texas Freedom Network (TFN) which examines a Bible study curriculum marketed to public schools, Monday, August 1, 2005, in Austin, Texas. Kathy Miller, President TFN, left, and Dr. Richard Bautch, a religious studies professor at St. Edward's University, right, joined Chancey in denouncing the curriculum which they believe is error-filled and sectarian. (AP Photo/ Thomas Terry)

Texas Freedom Network reports on this NCBCPS curriculum as follows:

Dr. Mark Chancey, who teaches biblical studies at Southern Methodist University, has authored an in-depth analysis of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools' The Bible in History and Literature (Ablu Publishing, 2005). Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) claims that 1,000 high schools in 36 states are using its course materials (although the organization will not identify those schools). Dr. Chancey's report shows how the curriculum advocates a narrow sectarian perspective taught with materials plagued by shoddy research, blatant errors and discredited or poorly cited sources. A complete copy of Dr. Chancey's report is available at www.tfn.org.

TFN Executive Summary.

 

AFP: Korea talks flounder

.

10 minutes ago

BEIJING (AFP) - Six-party talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament floundered, with the Stalinist state failing to announce an expected decision on whether it is ready to abandon its atomic weapons programs.  One more session is planned for Friday.

HillUS chief envoy to the Six-party talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament Christopher Hill, right, is seen here in a file photo.

US envoy Hill indicated the US wanted detailed commitments from the North on how it would disarm.

"They have got to make real decisions. We need to have a situation where we know precisely what they have agreed to do, what they have agreed to abandon," Hill told reporters.

Full AFP story.


 

Haigler hits rightist KSLI mantras

.
Abilene, Aug. 4 - KSLI-AM "Talk Radio Abilene" continued a barrage of right-wing mantras today, including that prisoners drain our tax dollars getting better treatment than welfare recipients and that the ACLU wants to ban God from everything and is the cause of rampant immorality; and they ran a spoof from Rush Limbaugh saying that Local 666 of the AFL-CIO from Lancaster, Ohio, was protesting the space shuttle repairs as taking jobs away from American workers.

Dave Haigler, Taylor County Democratic Chair, called in and said Limbaugh lies even when he pretends to tell the truth, citing a Dec. 15 report from Media Matters for America, reported at -
http://www.abi-demian.info/041219/ - in which Limbaugh said that for Democrats, "the more deaths in Iraq the better," and that Bill O'Reilly had been recognized as the "misinformer of the year" by that group, as reported at -
http://www.abi-demian.info/041224/page3.html.

Co-host Paul Serrell countered that Media Matters was a liberal group. Haigler said they were media watchdogs.

Haigler said the ACLU was not responsible for any moral downfall in America, contrary to right-wing mantras that the school-prayer case or the homosexual sodomy case have led to such downfall. Haigler said that such cases do not encourage deviant behavior, but instead merely say that minority groups have the same rights as anyone else.

Serrell countered that "Ted Kennedy's hate crimes bill" would prevent preachers from preaching against deviant lifestyles, and that studies from the Netherlands show that homosexuality has led to a downturn in heterosexual morality.

Haigler said no hate crimes bill in this country prevents preaching against anything, and that the heterosexual divorce rate has been around 50% since the no-fault divorce laws were passed in 1973, and homosexuality had nothing to do with that.

Serrell said you already have laws against assault, and you don't need laws against hate crimes. Haigler cited a case in East Texas in which a minority person was tied behind a car and drug for hundreds of yards and killed, as indication that hate-crimes laws are needed.

Serrell, who is Black, bristled at that, saying the East Texas case involved a Black victim and that homosexuals are not a "legitimate minority." Haigler countered that he had a gay brother who lives in fear of gay bashing, and should be protected.

Serrell agreed Haigler's brother should not be treated that way.

Haigler said, as a Christian, we Christians have divorce rates as bad as anyone else, and we are not credible condemning other people's lifestles. "If we could get our act together, maybe we could talk about someone else," Haigler said. Serrell and his co-host, Karen Wilkison, agreed with that, and time ran out for the show.

-Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas, editor of:
http://abi-demian.info and http://demlog.blogspot.com.


 

Slate-Papers: Haditha's Horror - Aug. 4

.
By Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday, at 3:42 AM CT

Everybody leads with 14 Marines and one Iraqi interpreter killed when a massive bomb hit their lightly armored vehicle in western Iraq. The Marines were from the same unit -- and in the same town, Haditha -- as six Marine snipers who were killed earlier in the week.

The bomb was so big it flipped the 25-ton amphibious troop carrier, called an Amtrac, which then caught on fire. [See story & picture blogged below.] As the Los Angeles Times notes, the Amtrac's exit hatches are on top. Only one Marine inside survived. Marines moved through Haditha a few months ago and met little resistance. As the New York Times puts it, the guerrillas just "seemed to melt away." Though TP doesn't see it mentioned, U.S. commanders in the region have complained they don't have enough troops and end up sweeping towns only to be replaced by guerrillas. "We require more manpower to cover this area the way we need to," one military official told the LAT in May.

USA Today and Knight Ridder both dig into the vulnerabilities of the Amtrac, one of the Marines' most common vehicles. "It is very lightly armored. It is under-powered. It is essentially a big boat on land," said one analyst. "It was never designed for the kind of beating it has been getting." Having said that, analysts suggested that yesterday's blast was so big it's unlikely any armor could have survived.

A piece in the NYT [blogged below] looks at the increasing sophistication of the bombs -- including evidence that insurgents have adopted techniques once used by Hezbollah in Lebanon. "Our assessment is that they are probably going off to school," said one officer. Knight Ridder counts 39 U.S. and allied troops killed by bombs in July, the highest total since the war began.

The most in-depth (and fascinating) report TP has seen on Iraqi bombs -- aka IEDs -- comes from industry pub Defense News. A snippet:

Small, highly skilled IED cells often operate as a package and hire themselves out to the more well-known insurgent groups, such as Amman Al Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq or the Sunni group Ansaar al Sunna. They advertise their skills on the Internet....

Nine times out of 10, the military and intelligence officers said, the insurgents videotape IED attacks. The insurgents scrutinize the tapes—much as a coach watches postgame film.

Everybody mentions yesterday's easy-squeezy repair of the cloth fillers hanging from Robinson handiworkDiscovery's underbelly. Astronaut Stephen Robinson, seen working, left, pulled them out with his fingers, and declared, "It looks like this big patient is cured." Meanwhile, NASA is studying damage to the Discovery's thermal insulation blanket and might order a repair.

The NYT fronts an internal NASA report from last December that warned of continuing problems with foam. The report ultimately concluded that the shuttle was good to go, but criticized contractor Lockheed Martin, saying the company "did not do a thorough job" in applying the foam.

RobertsThe LAT fronts word that as part of his pro-bono work, Judge John Roberts (right) helped gay rights activists win a landmark Supreme Court ruling restricting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only three justices dissented: Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist.

Roberts was asked to help out on the case by a former colleague, who recalled Robert's response, "'Let's do it.'"

The NYT meanwhile notices that back in his Reagan White House days, Roberts "opposed new provisions in the Voting Rights Act."

A piece inside the NYT notices that the recent highway bill's true price is about $9 billion more than advertised. Congress used accounting trickery to make the bill appear to stay in line with the spending cap the president demanded. A spokesman for the Senate committee on the deal said "the White House requested" the move. [D.H.: Maybe they learned this accounting trick from their Enron buddies in one of Cheney's secret energy-policy briefings.]

G-ood Bye...
Last week, the NYT
reported that the administration was allegedly scrapping the "Global War on Terror" in favor of the "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism," or G-Save. Citing administration sources, the Times said the rebranding grew "out of meetings of President Bush's senior national security advisers that began in January, and it reflects the evolution in Mr. Bush's own thinking." Turns out, not so much. Adding credence to (but not mentioning) an earlier blog report, a stuffed NYT piece notices that the president, below left, "publicly overruled some of this top Bushadvisors." In a speech yesterday, he referred to the "war on terror" at least five times; "global struggle against violent extremism" got zero love. The Times suggests that apart from "concern" that the new now-dumped phrase might actually "signal a shift in policy," the president just didn't like it.

Among those who had lobbied hardest for G-Save Rumsfeldwas SecDef Rumsfeld, right. Not that he was bothered by the president's speech. "The secretary doesn't feel this is push back," explained a Pentagon spokesman. "He feels it's an important clarification."

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.


 

NYT: New Iraq bombs destroy Humvees & tanks

.

The explosion that killed 14 marines in Haditha yesterday was powerful enough to flip the 25-ton amphibious assault vehicle they were riding in, like the one shown below left, in keeping with an increasingly deadly trend, American military officers say.

US tank in Iraq

In recent months the roadside bombs favored by insurgents in Iraq have grown significantly in size and sophistication, the officers say, adding to their deadliness and defeating efforts to increase troops' safety by adding armor to vehicles.

The new problems facing the military were displayed more than a week earlier, on July 23, when a huge bomb buried on a road southwest of Baghdad Airport detonated an hour before dark underneath a Humvee carrying four American soldiers.

The explosive device was constructed from a bomb weighing 500 pounds or more that was meant to be dropped from an aircraft, according to military explosives experts, and was probably Russian in origin.

The blast left a crater 6 feet deep and nearly 17 feet wide. All that remained of the armored vehicle afterward was the twisted wreckage of the front end, a photograph taken by American officers at the scene showed. The four soldiers were killed.

And what happened in the aftermath of the July 23 attack provided further cause for alarm.

A British explosives expert, part of a special squad formed to investigate major insurgent bomb attacks, stepped on a second, smaller bomb buried near the first and was badly wounded, two American officers said. He later had an arm and a leg amputated. A third device, hidden a few yards away, was found and defused.

"This was a catastrophic event," said Sgt. Jason Knapp, an Air Force bomb technician who arrived at the scene of the multiple attacks the next morning. He found a foot from one of the American soldiers in the shallow water of a nearby canal. "It was pretty disturbing," he said.

Military personnel involved said the attack last month indicated to them that a new and deadly bomb-making cell singling out American patrols was operating near the large allied military base at the airport, an area that two officers said had seen little insurgent activity in months.

There was further evidence for that on Saturday. Less than a mile from the July 23 attack, four more American soldiers were killed when their Humvee was struck by another hidden bomb.

From the earliest days of the insurgency there has been a constantly evolving battle of wits between insurgent bombers and soldiers trying to stop the roadside bombs and suicide attacks.

As the threat from bombs and suicide attacks has grown, the Pentagon has rushed 24,000 armored Humvees to Iraq since late 2003. But the insurgents have responded by building bombs powerful enough to penetrate the vehicles' steel plating.

Senior American commanders say they have also seen evidence that insurgents are making increased use of "shaped" charges, which concentrate the blast and give it a better chance of penetrating armored vehicles, causing higher casualties.

Bomb-making techniques used by the anti-Israeli militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon have increasingly begun appearing in roadside bombs in Iraq. A senior American commander said bombs using shaped charges closely matched the bombs that Hezbollah used against Israel.

"Our assessment is that they are probably going off to school" to learn how to make bombs that can destroy armored vehicles, the officer said.

As the military has begun conducting post-bombing investigations, insurgents have increasingly been planting multiple devices at the same location, apparently to disrupt investigative teams sent to the blast site, or at least delay their work while they clear the site of any secondary bombs.

Sometimes improvised explosive devices, known as I.E.D.'s, are placed in the open to draw in American disposal units. "A lot of times they plant fake I.E.D.'s and wait until you come on site to open up," said Sgt. Burnell Zachary. "Once the mortar rounds stop, the drive-bys come."

Last week, as an American bomb team was defusing a bomb in the predominantly Sunni Arab neighborhood of Amiriya in Baghdad, a passing black BMW opened fire on the unit and its security detail, according to an after-action report. An Iraqi police detachment that was providing security for the team returned fire and struck the passenger in the car in the chest, the report said.

A few blocks away, American snipers were watching an Iraqi man who was stacking rocks along a street that the bomb disposal unit would drive down as it was leaving the neighborhood, according to the report. They suspected that he was building a hiding place for a bomb.

"Snipers engaged and killed the individual, who appeared to be emplacing an I.E.D.," the report says.

At best, American soldiers familiar with the bomb problem say, they may be able to reduce the number of attacks, which average around 65 a day against Iraqis and Americans troops, and hand over the fight to Iraqi security forces sometime next year.

"It's not realistic to think we will stop this," says Sgt. Daniel McDonnell, who leads a three-man team of explosives technicians responsible for finding and defusing improvised explosive devices in Baghdad. "We're fighting an enemy that goes home at night and doesn't wear uniforms. But we can get it to an acceptable level."

Americans directly engaged in the fight say that while they are having some success at tracking down some of the perpetrators, there is a steady supply of Iraqis willing to set bombs for a small amount of money.

At least four Army bomb technicians have been killed by such hidden bombs this year, according to Capt. Gregory Hirschey, a company commander in the 717th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Battalion.

Full NY Times story.


 

AP: Bush hosts Uribe as rights groups protest - Aug. 4

.
By Deb Riechmann -

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - President Bush's partner in Latin America, the leader of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe (shown below right while visiting oil industry leaders in Houston yesterday), was invited to see the Texas ranch today, where Bush likes to conduct homespun diplomacy.

UribeFor Bush, Uribe's visit on Thursday is a way to bolster the leader of a nation that is fighting terrorists and drug lords and working to build better trade relations with the United States.

For Uribe, the trek to Texas comes at a critical moment in Colombia where rebels, funded by narcotics trade, kidnapping and extortion, have been struggling to topple the government and establish a Marxist-style state. Outlawed right-wing paramilitary forces also have been battling the rebels. The 40-year-old conflict kills more than 3,000 people every year, mostly civilians, with allegations that human rights abuses are being committed on all sides.

Uribe is meeting with Bush after recently signing the "justice and peace" law, which aims to dismantle paramilitary forces that also are heavily involved in drug trafficking and reintegrate them into the legal side of Colombian society. Critics say the new law goes too easy on criminals.

Uribe is hoping the United States will continue sending money to help train and equip Colombian police and armed forces to fight guerillas and paramilitary groups.

Their meeting comes just a day after the State Department announced that Colombia's government and armed forces have met human rights standards needed to qualify for full funding of U.S. assistance programs. Colombia has received more than $3 billion in U.S. aid during the past five years as part of an effort to wipe out cocaine and heroin production and crush the long-running leftist insurgency.

Congress imposed conditions on U.S. assistance to push Colombia to curb human rights abuses. Failing to meet the standards would have meant a cut of about $70 million, according to a State Department estimate.

Amnesty International USA quickly challenged the certification made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Amnesty protestors against UribeAmnesty demonstrators, left, hold banners during a recent protest against Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the new law setting rules for disbanding Colombian paramilitary militias. Banners read 'Fair Peace, Colombia,' left, and 'Colombia Poor, Down Uribe!' REUTERS photo/Andrea Comas.

"This [State Department human rights approval] decision is a major blow to the promotion of human rights in Colombia and is based on only the narrowest reading of the law and the thinnest of evidence," said Dr. William F. Schulz, executive director of the Amnesty group.

The State Department insists that Colombia is making progress on the human rights front, although a spokesman, Tom Casey, acknowledged that "more needs to be done."

During a speech on Wednesday, Nicholas Burns, the State Department's third-ranking official, defended the controversial "justice and peace" plan, saying it will help "dismantle the criminal structures of demobilized illegal armed groups, provide for peace with justice and permit continued extradition."

The initiative, however, has been sharply criticized by Human Rights Watch.

The Colombian government is allowing groups that have committed thousands of atrocities, including massacres, killings and kidnappings, to launder illegal fortunes and legitimize their Human Rights Watch directorpolitical power, says Jose Miguel Vivanco, right, Human Rights Watch's director for the Americas.

"The government's approach to demobilization allows paramilitary commanders to put on a show of disarming some troops," Vivanco said. "But the government has not truly attempted to dismantle their mafia-like networks, seize their illegally acquired fortunes or ensure a full cessation of abuses."

Full AP story.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

 

AP: Democrats Question Roberts' Pledge to Follow Precedent

.

-
Published: Aug 3, 2005


WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats plan to use confirmation hearings to question John Roberts about his pledge to follow established legal rulings, saying his record as a government lawyer creates doubts about his commitment to privacy rights, particularly abortion, if he gets a seat on the Supreme Court.

Roberts' response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire about "judicial activism" provides some hope but "also raises many Sen. Schumerquestions," said New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, left, one of eight Democrats on the committee that will begin considering Roberts' nomination Sept. 6.

"That's why the hearings will be so crucial to determining whether Judge Roberts will rule from the bench in a careful and non-ideological way, or will instead choose to make law or impose his will," Schumer said.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican on the panel, said it would be inappropriate for Roberts to discuss specific cases such as the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, particularly since the high court will hear a case next fall on the constitutionality of a New Hampshire parental notification law.

"Justices are not politicians," Cornyn said. "They don't run on a political platform, and senators should not ask them to do so."

As Roberts continued his round of private meetings with lawmakers Wednesday, Senate staff and special interest groups were combing the federal judge's 84-page response to the questionnaire, which was released late Tuesday.

At the heart of the debate are Roberts' views on "judicial activism," a criticism levied by congressional Republicans when they believe judges go too far in deciding social issues rather than leaving those choices to elected legislatures.

After meeting with Roberts on Wednesday, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., said he was pleased by Roberts' view that judges should interpret the law, not make law.

Some Senate Democrats have also cautioned against "judicial activism," although their definition refers to judges who would ignore legal precedent and overturn more liberal Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Roe decision.

In his response, Roberts reaffirmed that precedent plays an "important role in promoting the stability of the legal system." He also said judges "do not have a commission to solve society's problems."

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, lawyers for Democrats on the Judiciary Committee said the response raises fresh questions, given recently released Roberts documents that they say show a hostility toward civil rights.

They point in particular to a Dec. 11, 1981, memo, released Tuesday by the National Archives, that Roberts wrote as a 26-year-old special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith.

In that memo, Roberts summarizes a speech by former Harvard law dean Erwin Griswold, explaining that it is consistent with Smith's "policymaking themes." Griswold "devotes a section to the so-called 'right to privacy,' arguing as we have that such an amorphous right is not to be found in the Constitution. He specifically criticizes Roe v. Wade," Roberts wrote.

"You were quite right that I would find a 'measure of resonance' in your lecture," Roberts later wrote in a draft of a letter to Griswold signed by Smith.

Other memos, Democrats say, show he is skeptical of the judiciary's role in fully protecting individuals' "fundamental rights."

"We're convinced there's a lot of questions that need to be asked," said a Democratic counsel for the Judiciary Committee, whose eight Democrats are seeking access to thousands more documents from when Roberts served as a top deputy in the solicitor general's office from 1989-93.

Tasia Scolinos, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said Roberts' recently released memos reflected the official position of the Reagan administration, not his personal views.

"Nowhere in the memo did John Roberts - at the time a young attorney at the Justice Department - express his personal views on the right to privacy. He simply summarized a law review article written by Dean Erwin Griswold," she said.

But several liberal interest groups said Wednesday that the material raised questions.

"We are gravely concerned this new information could indicate John Roberts holds a hostile position on the Karen Pearlfundamental right to privacy," said Karen Pearl, right, interim president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which supports abortion rights.

"Would John Roberts go so far as to deny the vast majority of American women the right to make their own childbearing decisions? It is the Senate's duty to the American people to find out," she said.

AP Breaking News.


 

Reuters: Ayatollahs in charge in Iran

.
Iran's leadershipIran's leadership (L to R) Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, Head of the Assembly of Experts, Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Former President Mohammad Khatami, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi and Speaker of Parliament Gholamali Haddadadel stand together before the confirmation of President Ahmadinejad in Tehran August 3, 2005. (Raheb Homavandi/Reuters)
 
D.H.:  Five of the seven look like ayatollahs to me.  I wonder who's really running the country. 
 

 

AU: TV Preacher Prays For More Vacancies On Supreme Court

.

Robertson Seems To View God As 'Divine Hit Man,' Says Americans United's Barry Lynn

RobertsonTV preacher Pat Robertson, right, is so eager to see the Supreme Court overturn decisions upholding civil liberties that he's praying for God to create more vacancies on the high court.

Speaking on his nationally broadcast "700 Club" program Aug. 2, Robertson blasted the court for "egregious decisions that have taken us far away from the Constitution." Among the rulings under fire from Robertson were Roe v. Wade, rulings on the "the so-called separation of church and state," decisions protecting the civil rights of gay people and the ruling barring the death penalty for juveniles.

The Virginia Beach-based televangelist later launched into a prayer asking God for swift confirmation of Bush nominee John G. Roberts and more vacancies on the high court so that new justice can "dramatically change" judicial policy.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, criticized Robertson's actions.

"Robertson and other Religious Right leaders are so desperate to take over the Supreme Court that they're trying to move heaven and earth," Lynn said. "They're even trying to enlist God in their nefarious court-packing scheme.

"Robertson seems to view God as a divine hit man, taking out justices or anyone else who gets in the way of the Religious Right agenda," said Lynn. "I think most Americans don't like to see God dragged into this kind of divisive and demagogic politics."

In the "700 Club" broadcast, Robertson laid out a religious political agenda for controlling the high court. He urged viewers to participate in "Operation Supreme Court Freedom," a month-long prayer project intended to beseech God to replace current justices with "righteous judges."

"Well, the time has come for somebody who says we're not going to legislate from the bench, we're going to abide by the Constitution," Robertson said. "So the president has put forth one person, but there needs to be a couple more."

Americans United For Separation of Church & State webpage full press release.

D.H.: This is not new. I wrote a feature article on Robertson on Jan. 3 this year, entitled, "Robertson says God will replace liberal Justices quickly," in which he criticizes, among others, the 2003 case of Bowers v. Texas that decriminalized private consensual homosexual conduct, which Robertson, then 73, says "has opened the door to homosexual marriages, bigamy, legalized prostitution, and even incest."

However, the Bowers decision specifically distinguished (did not legalize) sex with minors, persons who might be injured or coerced, those who might not easily refuse consent, or public conduct or prostitution. It merely declared a privacy-due process right regarding private consensual homosexual conduct and struck down laws in only 9 states outlawing such conduct. Its rationale was that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.

Robertson is a Yale Law School graduate, so he should know better, and I think he does know better -- which makes him a demogogue. He is also head of Regent University, which has an accredited law school with some fine scholars teaching and studying there. It is said the law is a jealous mistress, meaning she requires a lot of attention from the lawyers who serve her. But she is not a mistress -- in the sense of a kept woman -- to sectarian interests like those Robertson is pushing.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, religious-liberty defense lawyer/mediator/securities arbitrator; Taylor County, Texas, Democratic Chair; and editor of http://demlog.blogspot.com


 

AP: Roberts respects precedent

.

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer 39 minutes ago

U.S. Supreme Court nominee John RobertsWASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, left, says he will honor established Supreme Court rulings, telling a Senate committee that legal precedents are important to "promoting the stability of the legal system."

Liberal interest groups quickly criticized the high court nominee for failing to state whether he would uphold the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

In responses to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, the 50-year-old federal appeals court judge addressed a wide array of questions, from his financial holdings and work history to political ties and judicial philosophy. In particular, the survey offered Roberts' most current views on "judicial activism," an area critical to gauging his stance on the 1973 Roe decision.

"It is difficult to comment on either 'judicial activism' or 'judicial restraint' in the abstract, without reference to the particular facts and applicable law of a specific case," Roberts writes in the 84-page disclosure, which the committee released late Tuesday.

"Precedent plays an important role in promoting the stability of the legal system," he added. "A sound judicial philosophy should reflect recognition of the fact that the judge operates within a system of rules developed over the years by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath."

At the same time, Roberts said that "judges must be constantly aware that their role, while important, is limited."

"They do not have a commission to solve society's problems, as they see them, but simply to decide cases before them according to the rule of law," he wrote to the committee, which will begin considering Roberts' nomination on Sept. 6.

The Supreme Court is closely divided on the issue of abortion rights and other social issues, with retiring Sandra Day O'Connor, the justice whom President Bush selected Roberts to replace, often providing the swing vote. While previous court nominees have typically refrained from commenting specifically on Roe, liberal groups say the stakes are now too high to ignore.

"John Roberts' lawyerly answers fall far short of the candor the American people expect," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which opposes Roberts' nomination. "Even anti-choice Justices Scalia and Rehnquist respect precedent, but that hasn't stopped them from explicitly saying they want to overturn Roe v. Wade."

Full AP story. D.H.: Extremists on both sides of the abortion issue may want Roberts to tell them how he would vote if Roe v. Wade were reconsidered, but this is unrealistic. How the case might be revisited is impossible to predict, and the facts and legal arguments would be entirely different next time. The notion of a judge promising to vote one way or another on future cases is offensive and smacks of bribery, i.e., "We'll support you if you vote a certain way." That may work with legislators, but not with judges.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Taylor County Democratic Chair, Abilene, Texas; editor, http:demlog.blogspot.com.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Donate to DemLog, a project of Marcus Comton (click on box below to go to PayPal and donate). Thank you very much: