Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Next American Revolution...

Brewing under all the self-confidence regurgitated by American government officials lingers the lies that span the greater part of half a century. Some of these lies are documented or subject to conjecture in the media. However, Americans are an unwitting public who consume the spin supplied by lobbyists, news agencies, religion, and politicians. They then make decisions in a rash and undereducated manner. We write off things like paying taxes, but can't seem to figure out how the Federal Government retains a national debt in excess of 8 and a half Trillion dollars. Clearly, the Government is taking us for a ride, especially if a Congress that only worked a combined total of 200 days last year but still make $165,000 for their effort. If the wool can be pulled over our eyes so easily in order to obscure what we know, could it not happen in a more perverse way in the future that would destroy the American Union?

The next American revolution needs to start now, and must be lead by regular Americans. Not every American Court will defend us from an abusive government. The 2006 election will hopefully be a start of a chain reaction that will bring our government and society back to what the founders envisioned at its inception. It can only happen if the people take action, so that maybe this time the revolution won't just be televised.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Goodbye Liberty

Apparently, Newt Gingrich thinks that we have too much freedom and its keeping us from effectively fighting terrorism. That's funny, I was unaware that Republicans were out to get the American people by debasing the foundation of liberty and democracy. The statements he made at this function supporting people who fight for free speech rights were also contradictory. We need to limit speech so that Terrorists can't spread their message, but we need to make sure people feel free to express their religious beliefs. To some degree, Mr. Gingrich is for supporting terrorists more than supporting Americans. It's paradoxical to think that limiting speech will assist in fighting terrorism when many terrorists believe eradicating the world of other faiths is a fundamental tenant of their religious beliefs. There is that other notion, you know, that freedom of religion only extends to those who aren't terrorists. However, the rhetoric used in the debate won't support this position either since there are non-Islamic terrorists too.

Before we give into what the terrorists want, i.e. destroying America by making us so afraid of them that we lose our freedom and destroy our nation, we should try to protect what makes this country great. This includes protecting the fundamental right to discuss political issues that make the democratic process possible. Way to destroy America Republo-fascists.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Good Things Come in Threes

It has been a long time since I posted twice in a day. I don't think I have ever triple posted. World be warned...

The third post of the day concerns the possibility of the President's impending impeachment. Don't believe the hype, this trend could literally end the hope of preserving Republican veto power. The Republicans think the American people lack the fortitude to weather another impeachment. They weren't concerned with this when they held the legislative majority and impeached Clinton. If the majority wants it, we can probably survive. It looks like there is a
growing list of Constitutional and statutory violations that could lead to this impeachment.

Dictator and Chief

It's no surprise that a majority of the country is dissatisfied with the Republicans, and it is equally no surprise that the President's policies have gone to the extreme in damaging American international good will, democracy, and character. The light on top of the hill continues to dim, and Americans should be aware why this is the case. Consider the Vice President's perspective on the issue of Presidential power. The reality of the situation is very different, regardless of what the Vice President may think.

Looking at the general breakdown of powers in the Constitution, it stands to reason that Congress retains the dominant amount of power in our governmental system, the President deals with international issues, and the judiciary has the ultimate authority to determine when either of the other two branches are overstepping their constitutional limitations. Article I, section 8, attributes 18 specific powers to the Congress, leaving the remainder to the states unless specified otherwise. Conversely, Article II, section 2, provides the President with only 4 specific, articulable powers. Moreover, the language of Article II does not provide the President with a blanket power, like it does with the Legislation through the necessary and proper clause in Article I. Historically, Congress has created laws that limit or expand the powers of the President, usually with regard to appropriations or the use of the military. In addition, the drafters of the Constitution expressed concerns about having an overly powerful President, especially after the end of the Revolutionary War. Someone needs to inform the leaders of this country about the way things are supposed to work, and give the people their country back.


While my blog routinely deals with social and political issues, I am a linux user and also follow technology news. Many companies have tried to tackle the digital music arena in an effort to unseat the Apple dominated market. Microsoft is the biggest fish to take a crack at Apple's iPod monopoly with their new product, the Zune. Though a solid bid for power in the market and likely a contender for the anti-Mac crowd, it's unlikely that Microsoft will be able to put a dent in Apple's substantial market share. In addition, it's unlikely the Zune will sell well in the event it receives more bad press.

This review makes a salient point, the Zune targets the part of the market place that Apple has yet to capitalize on, acquiescing to the demands of the music business. While music production companies make out like bandits from single song sales on iTunes, the Zune solicits the benefits of being in the pocket of the RIAA. For those willing to sacrifice freedom and usability for abusive corporate tyranny, buy one. Otherwise, keep your respect and buy something else, even if it's not an iPod.

Unsubstantiated Postulation

Many pundits and Republicans were surprised when former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned from his position days after the 2006 midterm election. This political contingency is no doubt a response to the change of power in the legislative branch. Now it appears that Rumsfeld is being thrown to the dogs. Fear over prosecution under the War Crimes Act no doubt has the sharks looking for a scapegoat over the Iraq War debacle and the resulting questions about rendition prisons and whether the U.S. Military is prosecuting the war in violation of international laws of war. Rumsfeld easily becomes the one making all the policy decisions, and provides the Republicans and the President with someone to point to in the event public scorn for the travesties of the past 5 years focus on the Executive branch.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sad Impact of the Law

This was the shocking headline from last week. This is the insightful comment on the law that permitted this terrible event. More often that not, the law seems to forget that normal people may be stuck in the middle. It's as though, at times, the law forgets who it serves and we are left with the sober reminder of the pragmatic affect of statutes and judicial decisions.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Still Not Funny...

Here is an interesting update on the last story...Interesting.

Not-so-funny Joke

By now, almost everyone has heard about Michael Richards' racist outburst while performing at the Laugh Factory this last weekend. In case you missed it, you can find the full video here (very not safe for work and disturbing). Last night, Richards apologized on David Letterman's show in an attempt to rectify the situation. The Laugh Factory has issued their official statement on the issue as well. Regardless of the negative adjectives that can easily be ascribed to this event, it raises an interesting social and legal issue. At the Laugh Factory's press conference on the incident, Paul Rodriguez stated that though the comedy club does not condone this kind of malicious language, they will not institute a policy prohibiting the use of racist words.

As far as the First Amendment is concerned, no speech with social or political value should be proscribed. The key is value. No one can argue that Mr. Richards' words carried value in the sense that ideals of free speech is meant to protect. Few people would argue that comedy, in the American tradition, serves as commentary. For those who think otherwise, consider the premise of the Daily Show on Comedy Central. Though questionable in content, comedic acts like George Carlin's Dirty Words monologue offer commentary on aspects of American life. This kind of comedy, even if dealing with language insulting language, should not be limited provided it has a productive goal. In situations where the language is used solely to insult or degrade another, the speech has no value and should not be respected or protected by the law. There is no question that in this situation, Mr. Richards' language was meant to insult and degrade the object of his anger and should not be tolerated. However, this incident should not keep society from engaging in a productive discourse on language and racism.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The MCA, G'tmo...A Real American Story?

Today's news release says that the tribunals set up through the Military Commissions Act (the MCA) are working to effectively to release the innocent detainees. Empirical evidence seems to indicate otherwise. A new paper by Mark Denbeaux shows that the real operations of these tribunals aims to insure that every detainee is labelled an enemy combatant. It is no surprise, then, that some detainees are already mounting a frontal attack on the constitutionality of the MCA. If we are lucky, Congress will amend the law before these constitutional disgraces are permitted to take place. Food for thought, what the Pentagon releases as news versus what's really going on.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

U.S. Immigration Policy, the Need for Change

I am typically not the kind of person that would advocate for a change in immigration policy. After all, almost ever current citizen is descended from immigrant families. Part of my family came to the U.S. during the Irish potato famine. The reality of the situation, though, indicates that current government immigration policy is dangerous to the continuity of the nation from an economic perspective. Simply put, if current immigration levels continue, the government won't be able to support itself or the programs it has created to benefit the people. This video does an excellent job of describing the problem.

Defining Legal Detentions

Earlier this year, our lame duck Congress passed the Military Commissions Act (.pdf). In the wake of a law that seems to expand Presidential war power in a monumental fashion, the President's response has been to deny due process rights to immigrants detained as terrorists. This is the first challenge to the powers created under the MCA, and thankfully it's not disappearing without a fight. The SCOTUSblog has an excellent rundown on the case. John Balkin has an interesting perspective (as do the comments) on what is becoming the habeas corpus debacle.

I think this will make for an interesting test case. If, and no doubt when, this case makes it to the Supreme Court, it will redefine a question that has yet to find a definitive answer, "who has the war power?" Looking at the face of the Constitution, it appears that a bulk of the war power is attributed to Congress, allowing them to delegate the prosecution of that war through appropriations and previously enacted law. The President, though, has the sole Constitutional power to prosecute the war on the ground. This President's limited power, then, means the executive may only act within the mandate of Congress' declaration. This makes the MCA that more dangerous because it provides the President with greater latitude to wage this so-called war on terror. The Al-Marri case confronts the big issues surrounding the MCA, and could very well define the President's military power for the next 30 years. I still posit that the MCA is unconstitutional on its face for a number of reasons, but at least now the judiciary has a chance to decide.

Monday, November 13, 2006

iPod owner=Thief

Or, at least, so says the CEO of Universal Music Group. Apparently, fair use doesn't include using media you have paid for in ways other than direct read and play a la your good ol-fashioned cd player. This has provoked a predictable response from the legions of iPod faithful. It is important to point that out, the LEGIONS of iPod users. The mp3 market is dominated by the little white icon, so it's probably not wise for the leader of a music distribution company to make enemies so quickly. These articles make me laugh for two reasons. First, it's a blatant plug for Microsoft's new product, the Zune, which is supposed to rival Mac's iPod for the digital music player market. Second, Microsoft is paying off the music industry to gain the support of artists and, thereby, create their own distribution network.

The reality of the situation is that the real digital music snobs, the guys who encode in lossless formats with weird names like flac, ogg vorbis, or monkey's audio, don't really care. If anything, these super-users will take their business to a player that supports these special interest formats, or at least will run rockbox. What about pandering to the fringe, or realizing that allowing users to rip cds could save dismal cd sales. Instead, the hardware and music producers would rather make sure they get paid at the cost of software and business innovation. This is what happens in a trust ecconomy.

The Underemployed Lawyer

I appologize to those who look forward to reading my musings on a regular basis for my failure to keep up with regular posting. The fact of the matter is, I have been at a loss for words. What can I say, really, that hasn't already been said? This feeling of lackluster worth is driven by a couple of things. First, general uncertainty about life. Second, general uncertainty about the goings on of the world. And, third, this sinking feeling that everything in my life is spinning out of my usually iron-tight control. The first and the third are the most important. While I can say that I will be employed as a lawyer come the first of December, I can't say that I am entirely happy with the position. However, this comes down to unrealistic expectations.

As law students, we (lawyers/lawyers-to-be) lack any concept of of the real world. We are lulled, quitely, by the sanctimonious words of law school rercuirters. Then, with high hopes and delusions of grandure, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars pursuing what we think will be the next great chapter in our professional lives. Three years later, the reality is much more horrifying.

Truth be told, very few of my classmates graduated with jobs, even the ones everyone expected to be employed by the time we finished. For those from out of state schools moving back home can be even more of a shock. This year in Illinois, there are 2800 new lawyers, and a rough total of 83,000 lawyers in the state. We are left with a gap between the number of new lawyers and the number of entry level positions.

This lack of motivation is no doubt driven by the fact that after being so sure of my professional security at the beginning of this journey, I am left with a mountain of debt and the uncertainty of whether I will obtain gainful employment.

Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to my new job, but it certainly wasn't what I was expecting. The experience will be great, but it will only put me farther into debt. The net result of this equation of experience and wage could result in the nullity of bankruptcy, which for a lawyer spells professional ruin.

Bare with me, this too shall pass, but I fear that in the interim, blog posts of any substantive value will be slow in coming. Thank you for reading.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What it Seems We Have Forgotten.

This is an interesting video that every American should see, especially considering this being the eve of election day. Consider it a reminder of the way things really are.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Waterboarding, revisited...

Waterboarding is one of the many disputed techniques the CIA will supposedly employ in their "optional" terrorist interrogations. For the record, waterboarding is a form of torture that dates back to the 1500's. Apparently, the people over at Fox don't seem to think it amounts to torture. The news bite talks about how the person subjected to the waterboarding technique doesn't feel any physical harm. In reality, the purpose of the technique is to inflict the kind of grave apprehension one would feel upon death by asphyxiation. Regardless of the physical consequences, the mental effects are the ultimately the goal of the techniques use. Interestingly, the operative definition of torture under Common Article III of the Geneva Convention would include waterboarding because it is mentally degrading or disparaging conduct. While the good spin-masters at FoxNews would have us believe that waterboarding is not torturous, international law points to the contrary, and it's time the federal government program get with the program before other countries use our example to torture American citizens.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wagging the Dog...

I am sure at this point that everyone has seen or heard about Senator Kerry's comments that have some how taken over the news lately. Senator Kerry refers to the incident as a botched joke, but only because it seems like the majority of Americans didn't get it. The President and the Press Secretary have spun this language into an insult against members of the military serving in Iraq. In reality, anyone over the age of 35 might consider the words to be a vague reference to the operation of the draft, taking those with the least education first, or that Kerry was speaking about Texas and the record of the President's failed policy that forgets the valiant people that make up the American Military.

The absurdity of this situation is the Republican vilification of a very critical comment by by the opposing party. The reality of the President's response is more likely than not indicative of the President's lack of a substantive response. In this vein, I want to end this post with a special comment by Keith Olbermann, who sums up the effect of this rampant political stupidity.