Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You want a fancy tag line... How about Democrats are for the Bill of Rights

I hope everyone is doing well, and that February is treating you well. Each day, Louisiana continues to improve, but it definitely needs to stay in the public eye. The New York Times and NBC should be applauded for paying attention to the problems of the Gulf Coast, while others might not be focusing on a story that they consider to be losing steam. The best way for those of us in the rest of the country to stay informed is by using this wonderful resource; the web, and going to the news media of the area to see what is really happenning down there. By the way, both Mitch Landrieu and Ron Forman are running for Mayor. It will be an interesting race. Now that I've put in the traditional plug in for New Orleans.... What is going on in the rest of the nation?

Alberto Gonzalez has come out defending the Domestic Spying program that the Administration says is critical to the defense against terrorism. I have an interesting idea. Let's think about what the Democrats can do as far as a national plan to take back Congress. First it must be clearly different than what the Republicans put forward. I will take it one step at a time.

The rest of this post borrows liberally,in spirit and in some cases in actual text from Lew Many thanks to that website and its creators....

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Many have long argued that Republicans value the Second Amendment more than Democrats. So far, Bush’s policy has fallen in line with the Republican and NRA doctrine on gun control: the right to bear arms is an inalienable right, and instead of passing unconstitutional gun laws, the government should enforce more strictly the 20,000 unconstitutional laws already on the books. In effect, Republicans oppose government undermining the choices of Americans, but so long as government is in the business of doing so, its programs should be fully funded and carried out by Republicans with strict adherence to the letter of the law, resulting in punishments as severe as possible.
Ashcroft’s Justice Department has indeed turned up the heat on enforcing unconstitutional gun laws, boasting: "Under the President’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program, federal gun crime prosecutions have increased by 68 percent over the last three years. Last year, the Department set a new record of charging 23 percent more individuals for violating federal firearms laws." The Bush administration has asked for a $95 million increase in spending on gun control programs for 2005. He has also expressed willingness to renew the Assault Weapons Ban.
Moreover, although Bush signed the law passed by Congress that allowed airline pilots to carry guns on planes – one of the few security measures after 9/11 that might have actually prevented the terrorist attack – his administration initially refused to implement it. Bush acquiesced only after Congress and the Senate reconvened and voted, by a supermajority, to force Bush to put guns in the hands of pilots.
In spite of what Republicans in the NRA and Democrats in the Violence Policy Center might say, Bush has hassled gun owners more than any recent president, and has shown only contempt for any moderation in the War on the Second Amendment.

"No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. "

This not only dealt with the direct housing of soldiers, but also paying for the construction of housing for those same soldiers. It appears that the Administration is not doing what it should to create an exit strategy for the "War" in Iraq .

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Between the issues with the NSA and the USA Patriot Act, not to mention the over-reaching of homeland security, it is pretty obvious that the Democrats could solidly hold this plank in front of not only the left but the right and get some votes.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. "

After September 11th 2001, The Justice Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service have detained over 1000 individuals in the name of safety. The umbrella term of terrorism was used to justify these internments. Even after terrorism was ruled out as a cause for many of these suspects. In most of these cases due process was ignored. The USA Patriot Act also expands the right of the federal government to seize property of individuals.

This one was the most obvious problem that individuals have with the current Administration. But as you see we have issues with the whole philosophy this group has followed.

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

Can anyone say Guantanimo Bay? How about prisoner abuse in Iraq?

"In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."

This statement did not only guarantee a jury trial in cases between individuals, but also guaranteed that persons that had valid arguments could challenge the federal government. As you see here the current federal government is trying some of the tactics that caused the founding fathers to put this amendment into law.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Cruel and Unusual punishments.... And here we are with a Vice President who advocates torture. The Administration has defended a program that detains people without any real expectation to a free and fair trial. It might not be wonderful or even politically popular, but it is necessary that we defend the rights of the least popular to make certain that all in this country are guaranteed those same rights.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

As you can see President Bush is not respecting the rules that are written down. There is no doubt that he does not respect the rule of laws that are unwritten. The Administration continues to enforce a no fly list which is a restraint on freedom of travel not only on those individuals who are currently indicted or convicted of a crime, but simply those that might have a name that is close to a possible suspect.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

This brings us full circle. The Administration is now expanding executive power for the purposes of warrantless wire tapping. Ignoring the FISA court, and claiming that because they told Congress members of this activity without getting their consent, is not only a power not delegated to the government but also cutting the proper check, the judiciary, out of the natural checks and balances system that is our government.

We are a country the rest of the world has looked to as a shining city on the hill. Well it seems that the current leadership has chosen to destroy the very ideals that make this nation great in an attempt to protect it.

More later


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