Saturday, August 28, 2010


It is so easy to be cynical about politics and politicians these days. Many of them make it

easy for us as they say one thing and do another. President Obama promised change and no

more business as usual. Yet, at the end of the day, his healthcare reform leaves the insurance

companies intact, his financial reforms allow the biggest banks to get bigger, and his foreign

policy is no different than his predecessor.

There is one politician who has talked the talk and walked the walk. One politician who,

whether you agree with her or not, votes and acts exactly as she said she would and more

importantly, courageously stood up and voted her conscience on the question of war.

Senator Barbara Boxer should be re-elected based on one vote. She voted against giving

President Bush authority to go to war in Iraq. Her opponent, Carly Fiorina, says she would

have supported the Iraq war even knowing all we know now.

In October of 2002, the country was scared and angry. September 11th scared us.

President Bush and Karl Rove,, played on those fears to frighten us even more. They

touted evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Then Under Secretary of Defense,

Paul Wolfowitz, cynically admitted to Vanity Fair that pushing weapons of mass destruction

was the only way to sell the American people a war with Iraq. Do you remember the time?

The corporate media was scared to death to take on Bush. Dan Rather later admitted no one

wanted to ask a tough or aggressive question for fear of being accused of being unpatriotic.

Judith Miller was writing propaganda pieces, fed to her by the White House, for the New York

Times. The Washington Post was burying stories critical of the administration or which

raised questions about the validity of their claims on page 18. CNN, MSNBC, and FOX, along

with CBS, NBC, and ABC were beating the drums of war and dissension was not tolerated or

covered. Colin Powell went before the United Nations and lied. He lied about mobile germ

warfare vehicles. He lied about Iraqi missile technology. He lied about possible nuclear

weapons and that very night Chris Matthews gushed about the power of his presentation and

how the case for war had been made. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, quoting

a Judith Miller story, went on CNN to claim metal tubes were being imported by Iraq to make

centrifuges to process nuclear bomb material. She said this even as scientists at Oak Ridge

Labs in Tennessee disputed her characterizations. Rice famously opined "...we can't wait for

the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud over Manhattan." By the time they were done,

over 50% of the American people thought Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks of

September 11th and that he had nuclear and biological weapons to give to terrorists.

Into this hysterical mess, President Bush asked Congress to give him the authority to go

to war. Hillary Clinton voted yes. John Edwards voted yes. They understood it was political

death to be seen as soft on Iraq. In fact, 74 senators voted "yes" and only 26 voted "no" and

Barbara Boxer was one of those "no" votes. She knew it was a lie. She knew this was a

disaster waiting to happen and she voted her conscience. For that one vote she should be


There is more to consider. Boxer voted against Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court,

Alito and Roberts. These two have turned the court into an aggressive haven, recently opening

the doors to billions of dollars of political contributions from corporations drowning out the

voices of average Americans in the electoral process. She voted against the Patriot Act, which

was a direct assault on the Fourth Amendment; and she voted against tax cuts for the rich

which cost the treasury $2.3 trillion. She voted against immunity for the telecom companies

who illegally spied on their customers for the government. She opposed torture and the policy

of rendition. She voted for the economic stimulus package, preventing a global depression

from getting worse. Fiorina would have voted against it.

Fiorina would have voted for war, torture, illegal spying, and unlimited executive

authority. She is opposed to same sex marriage and even to a woman's right to choose.

We complain and perseverate about feckless politicians who act like political windsocks

with their fingers constantly in the air. Once in a while we should reward someone who has

lived up to her public persona and who had the courage to take on a frightened constituency,

cowered media, and out-of-control President to try and stop a tragedy which cost upwards of

5,000 American lives and as many as 250,000 wounded and injured at a cost of well over

$1 trillion. She was right and should be rewarded for that.

If you agree, you need to vote. If you agree, you need to get your friends and neighbors

to vote. If you agree, you cannot let low voter turnout cost us a valuable voice. If you agree,

you have to work to get her re-elected. Vote to reward a Profile in Courage.

(In the spirit of disclosure, I was Barbara Boxer's chief legislative assistant for three years.

We didn't always agree then and we still don't, but she deserves another term.)

What do you think? I welcome your comments. Please send them to


As Doctor Laura recently discovered, sticks and stones can break your bones and words

can really hurt you. She used the "N" word and endured all the heat and condemnation that

come with it. In politics, the "N" word actually starts with a "T" and saying it out loud can

end a political career. Why?

A few years ago, Swedes were given an opportunity to vote to reduce a high tax burden

(up to 60% of income). They were told a reduction in taxes would mean a reduction in social

services, social safety nets, and most of the government-run services the nation is known for.

They rejected the temptation to pocket a little more coin at the expense of what they

considered a very "civil" society.

For both the nation and California, revenues do not match spending. The federal

government can run deficits. The state government cannot. In both cases, part of the way to

deal with inadequate revenue is to increase taxes. Along with spending cuts, it is the only way

to solve the problem. Spending cuts alone won't do it on the federal level because Medicare,

Social Security, and interest on the debt are locked-in expenses. Add in the military budget

and what is left, even if totally eliminated, will not balance the budget.

In California, voters have tied Sacramento's hands. Proposition 13 limits the ability to

increase property taxes. Proposition 98 mandates how much of the budget must go to

education. Two thirds of the legislature has to approve a budget, meaning the minority can

veto anything the majority supports. There is no way to balance the budget just by cutting

alone. Yet, Whitman says she can balance the budget without raising taxes. She won't say

what cuts she will support, but she has a plan. Ahh-nold had a plan too. He was going to find

billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse. He was going to make government more

efficient. He refused to raise taxes. You know the rest of the story.

Your taxes have been going up for years on the local level in order to make up for the

lack of state and federal money. What did a parking ticket cost twenty years ago? How much

were building permits? What about the cost of a speeding ticket these days; and can you think

of a city, county, or state service you use for which you are not charged a fee? Fees at state

parks and national parks, fees to get a license, professional fees...these are all taxes you are

paying. How much does it cost to go to a museum or the aquarium or the zoo? These are all

taxes by a different name.

Americans today enjoy some of the lowest income tax rates in our nation's history. Despite

what regressives would like you to believe, you are not overtaxed. (I know everyone feels they

pay too much and no one likes them, etc.; but it's true.) Democrats and Republicans have

reduced the corporation tax to almost nothing. The capital gains tax has been cut to about 15%.

Federal income tax rates have dropped from a top rate of 90% in 1960 to about 38% today.

Most Americans pay more in Social Security taxes than income taxes. Corporations have been

given tax breaks to do business abroad and even more to bring some of that business home.

At the same time, President Bush refused to impose a war tax (as was done in Vietnam)

to pay for his disastrous wars. He simply added $1 trillion to the national debt. He cut taxes

for the richest 2%, which reduced revenues by $2.3 trillion. Add in a Medicare Prescription

Drug Program along with the Wall Street bailout and the economic stimulus package, and it's

easy to see where the deficits came from.

To suggest raising taxes as a piece of a fiscal formula to solve our financial woes is

anathema. Why? Do Americans or Californians think there is such a thing as a free lunch?

Do Americans understand nations like China are financing our debt which has national

security implications?

At one time, the University of California system was the envy of the world. It was

virtually free to attend and along with the state colleges and community colleges, provided

vehicles for people to better themselves, be competitive, foster innovation, and attracted

students from around the world. Today, one year at a UC school will cost over $14,000 for

tuition alone. Fewer students are admitted. State colleges face the same fate and for the first

time in history, community colleges are turning students away. Money for basic research is

almost non-existent. Tens of thousands of teachers and public safety workers face layoffs.

The state and federal infrastructures, the roads and bridges, are falling apart. The electrical

grid resembles that of Haiti or Somalia rather than Sweden or Portugal (which by 2050 will

be getting over 40% of all their energy needs from alternative sources). California's levee

system is in terrible shape, a disaster of Katrina proportions just waiting to happen.

When did Americans decide that "taxes" was the new "N" word? When did we stop

demanding government live within its means or raise revenue to make up for the shortfall?

Why would anyone vote for a politician who says this problem can be solved without additional

tax revenue? You know it's a lie. Why do you reward the liars who perpetuate this myth?

I am frequently accused of bitching and moaning without proposing solutions. Here are

some ideas. Amend Proposition 13 so commercial property is no longer exempt from property

tax increases. Change the rules in the legislature so a simple majority can pass a budget and

raise taxes. Increase the state sales tax and increase the state income tax rate for the top 5%

of taxpayers. At the same time, any new state employees have to contribute more to their

pension plans which will no longer be defined benefit programs. Any new start-up business

which employs more than ten people is exempt from state taxes for the first three years.

Drastically reduce the state prison population by putting first-time non-violent offenders on

supervised release and probation saving billions of dollars.

Nationally, increase the age when you can start receiving Social Security benefits to

seventy over a five year period. Means-test Social Security benefits. Tax all income, not just

the first $106,000. Continue to reform healthcare and bring down the cost of Medicare.

Reduce the military budget and once again release all federal non-violent first offenders to

supervised release (saving $3 billion easily). Return tax rates to their 2001 level for the

richest 2% of taxpayers. All new federal employees must contribute more to pensions and

healthcare and except the end of defined benefit plans. Suspend corporate income taxes for

five years for any new company employing over fifty people. End federal water subsidies for

agribusiness and let them pay market rate. End crop subsidies paying farmers not to grow

food and end price supports. Freeze all federal spending at current levels for four years with

any surplus going to reduce the national debt.

Take your pick. Make your own suggestions. However, we have to say the "T" word over

and over again until we are willing to do what is necessary to fix what is broken and leave a

better nation for our children. We must stop voting for the panderers and the liars who tell us

what we want to hear knowing full well it is a crock of "bull-geschichte". What do you think?

I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to


I heard a radio ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Whitman

claims since she built eBay, she is the perfect person to solve the fiscal disaster which is

California. How will she pull off this political legerdemain? Will she raise income taxes?

No. Will she modify Proposition 13 so commercial property taxes can be raised? No. Will

she support raising the state sales tax? No. Will she cut the $10 billion prison budget? No.

Will she support a constitutional change so that a simple majority in the legislature can pass

a budget? No. Will she cut education funding? She won't say. Will she cut Medicaid or other

social programs? No comment. So, what is her plan? She is going to cut waste, fraud, and

abuse in state spending. Where have you heard this before? (Hint, hint, go back and listen to

some of Ahh-nold's campaign speeches)

Whitman says there are too many people at Cal Trans working on too few contracts. She

says she is going to create a grand jury to investigate waste and fraud; and if she catches anyone

they will go to jail. She is going to go over the budget with a fine toothed comb and she will

save...wait for it, wait for it...billions of dollars.

How much longer will California voters fall for this con? You could close CalTrans and do

very little to close the budget deficit (and watch our infrastructure fall apart). If she was

focused, maybe she could save $1-2 billion ferreting out fraud and waste. What about the other

$15 billion or so she needs? She won't say. She has a plan, but she won't say what it is. She

directs you to her website. Has anyone looked? Did you find the other $15 billion in there


I am not a big Jerry Brown fan. He is a great thinker, but a terrible administrator. At

least he hasn't tried the old waste, fraud, and abuse dodge. The reality is, the state deficit

cannot be addressed without a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. This isn't

rocket science. All it takes is political will. However, Meg Whitman will not earn her own

chapter in "Profiles in Courage" by ducking and dodging when asked what specifically she

would do differently than the last two governors; and she insults the average gum-chewing

Californian when she tries the old waste, fraud, and abuse scam.

Is there waste in Sacramento? Absolutely. How about having the legislature meet only

every other year? Cut out each state legislator's per diem. Take away the state cars and all

the other perks which cost Californians a fortune. Dock their pay when a budget isn't passed

on time. Want something radical? How about returning control of education money to the

local school districts and then fire administrators who don't produce results.

Whitman is spending upwards of $100 million to win this race. Shouldn't she have the

courage of her convictions to lay out exactly what she would do? If she is scared to tell us,

why does she want the job to begin with?

If she is elected, I predict no one will ever go to jail for wasting taxpayers money or

committing fraud. She won't produce even $1 billion in savings from her statewide grand jury.

It will go away just as it did for Ahh-nold (I believe he identified about $100 million in waste).

Meanwhile, Sacramento will still be in gridlock and you and I will have to wait four more years

to see if anyone truly cares. What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals.

Please send them to


President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declare "Mission

Accomplished" and combat operations were over in Iraq. President Obama has announced

the removal of the last "combat" troops from Iraq, leaving a mere 50,000 Americans behind.

Do you see a difference? Is President Obama's action much different than President Bush's?

Did we accomplish the mission in Iraq? Did we win?

According to many analysts, we did win. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus,

we "surged" to victory. You remember the surge, thousands of extra troops added to calm

the country down and allow the Iraqis to form a government, decide how to divide oil revenues,

and reduce the influence of Iran. The "surge" was to give the Iraqi Parliament "breathing"

room to figure out what to do with the Kurds in the north who want independence and control

of the oil-rich region near Kirkuk. Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds would have time to learn to work

together and share power.

The "surge" reduced violence. However, it did not accomplish any of the other goals. The

Iraqi people elected a new Parliament in March. There is still no government. Prime Minister

al-Maliki was defeated, but won't let go. Iran's influence appears to be strengthening. The

Kurds are still demanding autonomy and there is no oil revenue legislation. Violence is on

the rise again as Shiite and Sunni seem to be preparing to have at it again. Does any of this

smell like victory to you? Does any of this justify as many as five thousand dead and 250,000

hurt and wounded Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis?

The Iraqi government cannot provide basic services to it's people. Electricity is spotty

at best. Clean water is a scarce commodity. The Iraqi police force and army cannot provide

basic security needs. Our troops have left for Kuwait. How many will be stationed there ready

to return if things go south politically?

There has never been a clear definition of what victory in Iraq would look like. It's

probably better that way because Iraq in its current state certainly isn't a success story. Colin

Powell said we shouldn't use American military force unless we have a clean exit strategy. His

doctrine was ignored in Iraq and continues to be ignored in Afghanistan.

The architect of the "surge" now says we may have to stay in Afghanistan long after the

summer of 2011 (the date Obama promised to start drawing down troops after his version of

the "surge"). I told you, in a piece a few months ago, that General Petraeus would start to hint

that withdrawal is not a good idea. Well, he isn't hinting anymore. He's just saying it outright.

In the New York Times and on Meet the Press, Petraeus cut Obama's knees out saying he

might oppose the President's desire to reduce the number of troops next summer. Petraeus

says we finally have the resources in place to accomplish our "goals".

Which "goals" is he talking about? Will the additional troops reduce the corruption and

unpopularity of the Karzai government? Will more troops stop Pakistan from aiding the

Taliban? How will additional troops prevent Karzai from dissolving anti-corruption squads

in order to protect his own family and allies? Will more troops change the Afghan police from

organized thugs into a real police force? Will more troops give us the same kind of "victory"

Petraeus achieved in Iraq?

Americans are dying at an ever faster rate in Afghanistan. The New York Times says

Petraeus is worried about his legacy. He "won" in Iraq and now must "win" in Afghanistan.

Seeing how well Iraq is going these days, I just can't wait to see what "victory" looks like in

Afghanistan. How do you think General Petraeus would answer Cindy Sheehan's question

about what her son or the sons and daughters of America are dying for these days...the ego

of a "victorious" general or the re-election of a president? What do you think? I welcome

your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to


My grandmother used to say, "...the proof of the pudding is in the tasting". America is

in the midst of an ideological war with fundamentalist Islamic forces where symbols are

more valuable than military victories. The attack on the USS Cole, the destruction of the

World Trade Center, and hitting the Pentagon didn't defeat this country. They didn't lead

to any change in government or recognition of those who staged the acts. The practical value

was nil. The symbolic value was priceless. Our enemies know this is a symbolic war where

image trumps reality.

Imagine you are watching al Jezeera or another Arab language news network or reading

the foreign press or listening to a Friday sermon, and you see or hear about angry Americans

stopping the building of an Islamic center in New York. You are told anti-mosque protests

are occurring all over the United States. You read about public denunciations of Islam as a

religion of violence. Prominent Americans like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rep. John

Boehner are all demanding the center be built somewhere else, if at all. The imam and his

supporters are called "insensitive"and "tone deaf". They are accused by some of attempting

to rub our noses in the rubble of ground zero and delight in our anger and discomfort.

Meanwhile, American forces have invaded Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and American

troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca and Medina. America props up

dictators in Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia; and Jordan is the number one ally of Israel as

it struggles with the Palestinians. Americans have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and

Afghans; and currently maintain 50,000 troops in Iraq and over 200,000 in Afghanistan.

Add to all these images this condemnation of an Islamic center built near the World Trade

Center site and the symbol war for the hearts and minds of the Arab world goes badly at best.

We are letting American fundamentalists take center stage in defining America for the world.

America is a land of religious freedom. The concept is enshrined in the first amendment.

Yet, these American fundamentalists, these American regressives, project the exact opposite

image to the world. They wear their intolerance like a badge of honor. Their nativistic appeal

contradicts the best parts of the American experiment. For them, this is a Christian nation

and no others need apply. They want Christian prayers in school, at football games, and at

the opening sessions of Congress. They attack a Muslim member of Congress for wanting a

copy of the Koran with him when he takes his oath of office. They rail against the incoming

tide of immigrants and use their religion to justify prejudice against gays wishing to partake

in the American dream. They view September 11th through this fundamentalist prism which

turns all of this into a religious war rather than a political one. They ignore the Muslims who

died that day. Worse, they dismiss these deaths as meaningless. Ironically, they play right

into the narrative that bin Laden and his gang have been preaching in madrassas for the last

thirty years.

Americans need to embrace this Islamic center. There should be fundraisers sponsored

by Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Can you picture the power of images of a fundraiser at

the Jewish Community Center in New York for a mosque? This project should bring out every

charitable impulse this nation has to offer. It should be beautiful and majestic; and it should

be a place where all faiths can come together to talk and share. There should be a constant

stream of pictures of children's programs and great meals, of scholars from various faiths and

disciplines meeting, and of Americans from all walks of life being welcomed. If we are who we

say we are and if we do not want American fundamentalists to hijack the best parts of this

country, this is a perfect opportunity to show a doubting Arab/Muslim world that we are who

we say we are.

Fundamentalism is the real enemy in this world. Fundamentalism is by definition

intolerant, closed to outsiders, anti-democratic, anti-pluralism, anti-intellectual, and

un-American. Whether it's Franklin Graham or Osama bin Laden, America stands in direct

opposition to fundamentalism. It's time to put up or shut up.

In the battle of symbols, the fundamentalists are winning; which means the majority of us

are losing. It is time to change the game. Supporting and helping to build a beautiful, popular,

and energetic Islamic center in New York would be a good start. What do you think?

I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Can it really be this simple? Do we really live in a nation where one group fights for

the have-nots while another defends the have-mores? As much as I have contributed to

the notion political differences in the United States can be reduced to progressives and

regressives, the myth of common ground won't go away. It is easy to portray Republicans

as the party of the wealthy and privileged and Democrats as the champions of working

Americans; but it isn't true. I believe the Democrats can be seduced by the rich and powerful

and the differences between the two come down to matters of degrees in many instances.

However, lately events seem to be reinforcing the stereotypes and making common ground

almost impossible to find.

The House passed a $26 billion aid bill to help states preserve thousands of teacher's

jobs and prevent the layoff of police and firefighters in communities throughout the nation.

In Los Angeles alone, the money means more than two thousand teachers will not lose their

jobs. Almost all Democrats voted for the bailout while almost all Republicans opposed it.

The Republican opposition, led by Minority Leader John Boehner, attacked the bill saying it

was another example of overspending by the Democrats. The bill would add to an already

burgeoning national deficit. Boehner says, "We are broke. We do not have the money to bail

out the states." Democrats responded by saying the bill would be paid for by closing tax

loopholes for foreign corporations and changes in the food stamp program; and begged

Republicans not to stand by and watch schools decimated and communities become less safe.

Both sides positions seem reasonable. We shouldn't be running up massive deficits if at

all possible and we also cannot afford to have tens of thousands of teachers and police and

firefighters laid off. Reasonable people can disagree. Right? There is one problem. When

the Congress returns in September, it will take up the question of allowing tax breaks for

the richest 2% of taxpayers to expire, returning tax levels to what they were under President

Clinton. Democrats favor letting the tax cuts expire while Republicans oppose a change in

the rates and intend to make this a key issue in the November mid-term elections.

Representative Boehner says we are broke. Republicans, and their TEA-party allies,

say spending is out of control. Between the President's economic stimulus package, healthcare

reform bill, two wars, and growing entitlements, there is no more money. The cupboard is

bare. They are running in November against the profligate Democrats who are spending too

much and creating an economic crisis. Ross Perot, Steve Forbes, and Ron Paul would be proud.

What they fail to mention is if these tax cuts for the richest 2% are allowed to continue for

another ten years, they will add $3.8 Trillion (with a T) to the national debt.

When Bush the Younger took office, he inherited a budget surplus. This surplus was

built on a tax increase for the top 1% of taxpayers passed by the Democrats without a single

Republican vote (Al Gore broke the tie). One of the first bills Bush proposed was a tax cut for

the richest Americans (Americans making more than $300,000 a year). This idea cost around

$2.3 trillion. Add another trillion to pay for unnecessary wars and the surplus was gone. Add

an economic meltdown of global proportions and a Medicare Prescription Drug Program

(another almost $1 trillion) and the national debt skyrockets. Republicans had no objections

to tax cuts for the rich. They were thrilled to go to war and fund the military-industrial

complex. They passed a Medicare Prescription Drug Program with no provision for how to pay

for it and they voted to bail out Goldman Sachs, AIG, and the rest of Wall Street. They showed

no interest in the rising deficits and national debt. Now, when asked to help states cope with

massive revenue shortfalls, they scream deficit and proclaim we are broke. When asked to end

tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and reduce the deficit as well as produce revenue for

infrastructure and the jobs that go with it, they scream bloody murder and accuse the

Democrats of trying to increase taxes on small businesses, papering over who the real

beneficiaries will be. They are also lying. Even if President Obama gets what he wants,

taxpayers who made between $500,000 and $1 million will pay $6,700 less than under Clinton

and those making $1 million or more would realize a tax savings of $6,300 over 2001 rates

(statistics from the Joint Committee on Taxation report of August, 2010).

Is it really this simple? Is it really this black and white? Republicans oppose a bill to

protect jobs and prevent layoffs of teachers and other public safety employees by screaming

about deficits and how we are broke. When asked to support an end to massive tax cuts for

the wealthiest Americans, they balk. They not only balk, but then vow to turn this into a key

issue for the mid-term elections. Elect Republicans and teachers may lose their jobs; but

the richest Americans will continue to enjoy the lowest federal income tax rates in modern

history. Elect Democrats and watch deficits rise as they try to prevent job losses and stimulate

the economy in order to create even more jobs.

I have no idea how the voters will act in November. Perhaps they are so angry they will

throw out anyone in office and replace them with someone new. However, if you are looking

for regressive Republicans to lower the deficit, control spending, and get our fiscal house in

order, if you are voting for them because they are for "the little guys", if you are voting for

the party which appears to care more about average gum-chewing Americans; these two bills

and the reactions to them should give you pause. Is it possible for stereotypes to be true?

What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Federal Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The reason is

simple. In order to be able to legally discriminate against someone, in order to deny them a

fundamental right, the government has to prove it has a "compelling interest" in doing so.

This "interest" has to be important enough to override equal protection, free speech, or other

constitutionally protected rights. In the case of Proposition 8, proponents couldn't come up

with one "compelling" reason why two people of the same gender shouldn't be able to enter

into a legal contract called marriage. I told you so.

While opponents put dozens of witnesses on the stand to show how the law discriminates

and denies equal protection and due process guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, proponents

had few witnesses with which to make their case. Those who did testify, defended the law on

the basis of marriage being the traditional structure in which children are raised and this

structure is best served when it is a man and a woman. Marriage, according to them, is an

institution through which society transmits values and only a marriage between two opposite

sex partners can transmit the values we wish our children to learn. Judge Walker rejected this

argument and he was right.

Supporters of Proposition 8 believe one man and one woman are superior to same sex

couples. Something is "unnatural" when gay men or lesbians wish to cohabit. Judge Walker

said this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate. At one time, it was thought a

marriage between a white person and a person of color was inferior and laws were

promulgated to prevent such marriages. In 1968, the Supreme Court finally ruled there was

no basis for such a belief except bigotry and racism and declared these laws violated the due

process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

There is no evidence to suggest same sex couples would be worse parents than two

straight parents. Yet, proponents argued that since marriage is the primary way society

educates its children, same sex marriages would fail that test. However, they were unable to

answer Judge Walker's questions as to why people who are infertile or never intend to have

children are allowed to get legally married.

What this whole debate is about is religion. The Mormon Church and the Roman Catholic

Church poured tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign to pass Proposition 8.

Evangelical Christian communities, and unfortunately, African-American churches also pushed

its passage. (It is ironic to see the prejudice in the African-American community against

homosexuality, necessitating support for a law eerily reminiscent of the miscegenation laws

of days past.) The Catholic Church considers homosexuality an intrinsic evil. The problem is

marriage is a civil matter, not a religious matter. Judge Walker points out religious leaders

can solemnize marriages, but have no authority to determine who can enter or leave a civil

marriage. He went on to say "...moral disapproval is an improper basis on which to deny rights

to gay men and women". Neither side disputes the fact marriage is a fundamental right.

Straight people have done little to uphold the sanctity of marriage. The states with the

highest divorce rates are all below the buckle of the Bible belt with Oklahoma leading the way.

The state with the lowest divorce rate is that bastion of liberal elites, Massachusetts. If we

want to really show concern for children, outlaw divorce. Divorce devastates children far more

than two gay parents ever could.

This issue is a classic which cuts right along demographic lines. People under forty

approve of same sex marriage by a large margin while those over forty oppose it. A recent poll

shows that if Proposition 8 were to be proposed this coming November, it would lose


Finally, proponents are outraged a judge has "thwarted" the will of the people. They

either failed civics class or don't understand the whole purpose of judicial review is to act as

a check on the legislative process. Neither legislatures nor popular initiatives can take away

constitutional protections to due process or equal protection without a "compelling" reason.

There is no "compelling" reason to prevent same sex marriage except prejudice and religious

bigotry and it is the function of the courts to ensure that doesn't happen.

This issue will get to a Supreme Court with six Catholics. I wish I had faith they will rule

on the law and leave their religion at home, but I am not confident they will. However, for

now I will live with the hope justice will prevail. What do you think? I welcome your

comments and rebuttals. Please send them to


Would it be acceptable to you if the government accused your child of being a criminal

and put him in prison for life without ever giving him or you a chance to answer the charges?

We have a Constitution to prevent such an abuse of power, don't we? Your child has the right

to face his accusers, to have counsel, to be accorded due process, and even a jury of his peers...

doesn't he?

Can you imagine a situation where you would trust the government to be judge, jury, and

executioner? Imagine a time when the Constitution would be suspended because it suits the

needs of some in Washington? Does the end justify the means?

Under President Obama, our government has carried out more "targeted killings" through

the use of pilotless drones than were carried out during the entire Bush administration. The

drones are used to hunt down and kill suspected terrorists. So what, you say. These are bad

guys and we need to kill them to protect our nation. Besides, these are foreign fighters and we

don't owe them any special protections or rights.

Recently, U.S. authorities declared Anwar al-Awlaki a "global terrorist". Awlaki is said to

be linked to the Fort Hood shooting in which an army major is alleged to have killed thirteen

people and to the Christmas Day underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Awlaki

is accused of being an internet inspiration for terrorists and to be actively working with

terrorists in Yemen associated with al Qaeda. By designating him a "global terrorist", the

United States is free to use a drone to attack and execute Mr. al-Awlaki. Oh, did I fail to

mention that Mr. al-Awlaki is an American citizen?

The United States government believes it has the right to execute Mr. Awlaki without

ever having to prove a single allegation against him. They don't have to get a warrant. They

don't need a grand jury indictment. They don't have to allow Mr. Awlaki counsel to dispute

these charges. Mr. Awlaki does not have any presumption of innocence. Our government says

he is guilty and given the opportunity, they will execute him without having to prove a thing.

Mr. Awlaki's father is trying to get legal help for his son. Unfortunately, U.S. law is such

if anyone helps the father help the son, they can be accused of giving aid to a terrorist and go

to prison themselves. This is starting to have a Catch 22 feel to it.

I have no idea if Anwar al-Awlaki is a terrorist or not. You don't know it either. The

government saying it doesn't make it so. The idea that some soldier in Nevada has the

authority to execute an American citizen using a drone without even having to prove his crime

and never give him his day in court is disturbing. It's frightening because I know any extra-

judicial powers the government asserts will be abused. The Patriot Act gave the government

unprecedented leeway to violate American's rights. We were assured it would be used

sparingly and only against really bad people. We now know that was a lie. The U.S.

government illegally spied on Americans. It mined email and cellphone traffic. It forced

libraries to give up records of what books we were reading (until librarians made a principled

stand and refused to cooperate). The FBI abused the use of "national security letters" and

the government used local police to spy on anti-war groups and groups engaged in political


Now, Mr. Obama and his team insist they have the right to execute an American citizen

without due process, solely based on their assertion he is a "global terrorist". Could they do

the same in this country? If they decided someone else was a really bad guy, could they just

execute him?

The war on terror, as well as the war on drugs, have turned out to be wars on the

Constitution. The Patriot Act all but eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. Now the government

is in the process of destroying the 14th Amendment as well. When all our protections are gone,

who will protect us from the government? What do you think? I welcome your comments and

rebuttals. Please send them to


Republican House Minority Leader, Congressman John Boehner, is "concerned" America

is being overrun by the children of illegal immigrants. He is so vexed at the thought of the

children of these criminals receiving the same rights to citizenship as ordinary God-fearing

Americans; he wants to change the 14th amendment. He's not alone. He is joined in a

xenophobic pantheon with the likes of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Hanbaugh, Tom Tancredo,

and almost-president John McCain.

The 14th amendment grants citizenship to anyone born in this country, no matter what

the status of their parents. It amended the Constitution so the children of former slaves

could not be denied citizenship. You were a citizen of this country by birthright.

Why is it when regressives sense a problem in this country, they want to amend the

Constitution to take rights away? Too much free speech?...amend the Constitution to outlaw

flag burning. Too many illegal immigrants?...change the Constitution to end citizenship by

birthright. Too many gay partners?...amend the Constitution to prohibit same sex marriage.

It is the height of condescension to suggest the only reason people come to this country

is to stick us with their kids. If you were barely feeding your family, had few clothes, and

minimal shelter and a few miles or a few hours away there is a place where you can triple

your salary, put food on the table, clothes on your children's backs, and a roof over their heads;

what would you do?

Every year, immigrants from Mexico send back over $25 billion to friends and relatives.

It is second only to oil revenues in the Mexican economy. In the last two years, illegal

immigration has dropped over 20%. Why? There are no jobs. Children can still become

citizens if born here and yet illegal immigration is down. To quote James Carville "'s

the economy stupid."

Boehner's new solution reveals the seamy underside of the immigration debate. He is

not proposing going after the corporations who employ all those illegal immigrants. He isn't

throwing CEO's in jail. As much as half the federal prison population is there for an immigrant-

related crime. When Walmart was discovered locking illegal workers in their stores all night,

did anyone go to jail? Raids on meatpacking plants in the midwest netted hundreds of illegal

workers. What happened to the owners of the company? Why is it regressives always go after

the poor looking for jobs when they want to gin up political fervor with their base?

Practically speaking, changing the 14th amendment would be an administrative nightmare.

Who would be responsible for determining if the mother is in the country legally? Does this

burden fall to the hospital? Hospitals have difficulty keeping patients straight. They are

bureaucratic swamps. Maybe the doctor should have to demand papers before taking mom as

a patient? Now that would do wonders for the doctor/patient relationship. What documents

would suffice? Would a birth certificate, Social Security card, baptismal certificate, passport,

or visa be acceptable? Can you tell the difference between a genuine an a fake document?

Maybe we could force every American to carry a national I.D. card. Is it lost on you the party

which says it stands for less government and a less intrusive government footprint could bring

about the total destruction of our privacy with the creation of a national data base? Oh, and

don't think it is only going to be people of color who need papers. All mothers will have to

prove they are here legally.

After the baby is born, then what? Does the baby get an administrative hearing before it

is deported? Does the baby get a lawyer? What if there is a mistake? Senator Ted Kennedy

ended up on a terrorist no-fly list and couldn't get off of it. The mistakes would be legion and

the emotional and physical carnage would be devastating.

If you are here illegally, your child can't be a citizen if Boehner and his ilk have their way.

If you are the unibomber, the underpants bomber, the shoe bomber...if you are serial killer

Ted Bundy, or the head of a violent drug gang, or Bernie Madoff who ruined entire families;

your children can all become U.S. citizens just be being born in this country.

We need a new immigration policy. For the 12 million people here illegally already, give

them a path to citizenship which rewards hard work and lawful behavior. Stop looking the

other way as the Mexican government cheats and steals from its people and fails to build the

nation's economy. Put CEO's in jail and shut down companies who employ illegal immigrants.

If the jobs dry up, so will the flood of illegal immigrants coming across the border. Stop being

scared of immigration. New immigrants inject energy, initiative, youth, and a strong work ethic

into this nation. They are good for us and are a competitive edge neither Europe nor China

can match. Leave the Constitution alone. Be embarrassed when national leaders use

xenophobia for political gain. Protect the few rights we have left! Together Si Se Puede!!!

What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lion Is Busy Traveling

To All the Followers of the Lion of the Left: The Lion is busy traveling right now, but in
a few weeks he may be able to post blogs again. Sincerely, Girl Friday