The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Alito's Hidden Agenda

Alito Watch:

Today, we learned that Alito, as a Reagan administration lawyer, proposed a strategy in 1985 to limit abortion rights without generating headlines by overturning Roe v. Wade.

Alito memo article

"No one seriously believes that the court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade" he wrote regarding two cases to be reviewed by the Court in 1985, "What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling ... and in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?"

Though I have not seen the actual memo yet, it appears that Alito's advice was taken to heart by the Reagan administration and pro-life zealots.

In the last 20 years, pro-lifers have gradually chipped away at abortion rights by limiting how and when abortions can be provided, by adding notification rights that invade a woman's right to privacy, and by increasing requirements for abortion providers to the point where it is not feasible to comply with the laws. Today, there is only one abortion provider in the entire backwater state of Mississippi. One. And a recent law looks like it's going to shut the doors of that last clinic any day now.

I will follow up with more posts once I can find a copy of the memo, but it certainly appears that Alito is firmly in the pro-life camp and will do anything to force his views on the public -- the majority of which does not support the pro-life position. It appears that Alito endorses gradual insidious changes to laws that fall below the public's radar yet limit our freedoms nevertheless. Alito's views appear more in line with a fundamentalist philosophy than the typical middle-of-the-road American.

Furthermore, this newly released memo appears to be a lot more significant than Alito's 1985 job application letter (that stated Alito's view that the Constitution does not provide the right to an abortion), which the Republicans have subsequently argued that Alito was just saying what is required (i.e. lying) to get the job.

-John Locke

PS. Relating to lying:

David Espo writes...

On another matter, Alito stepped carefully around his one-time membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a conservative organization that sparked controversy two decades ago by saying school officials had lowered admission standards to accept women and minority applicants. "A document I recently reviewed reflects that I was a member of the group in the 1980s. Apart from that document, I have no recollection of being a member, of attending meetings or otherwise participating in the activities of the group," Alito wrote the Senate.

Alito's current recollections differ from his memory when he was seeking appointment to the Reagan administration. In a 1985 job application letter in which he said the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion, he wrote that he was currently a member of "the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, a conservative alumni group."

Hmmmm... I'm pretty sure I can remember what organizations I participated in when I was in high school 20 years ago (or in college 15 years ago). Especially if they helped get me a job.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Time to Go

It's time to go. It's time to say goodbye. It's time to start a gradual withdrawal from Iraq. We have screwed up to a staggering degree in Iraq. Iraq is a huge mess and we are responsible for it. Scratch that. More correctly, Iraq is a huge mess and the Bush Administration is responsible for it.

To be fair, a quasi-majority of the American public is also responsible for the mess, since they voted for Bush.

I, however, NEVER supported the war; I never linked 9/11 and Iraq; I never linked Iraq and Al Queda; I never linked Iraq and the safety of the US, and I never voted for Bush. To be honest, I did buy the Bush administration's lies about weapons of mass destruction, but I did not view that as a reason to invade a sovereign country. Yes, I know that Iraq HAD weapons of mass destruction at one point -- we sold them to them, for cripes' sake. Yes, I know that Iraq had invaded other countries before -- we gave them permission. Yes, I know that Saddam was an evil dictator, but I had the sense to know that invading Iraq would be a very very bad idea. I was right.

Nowadays, Iraq is in the middle of a civil war -- that we started. We created a power-vacuum and the insurgents took advantage of it. Our troops are both the targets and the catalyst that fuels the insurgency.

Iraq is messed up, but I don't see an easy way out. The Bush Administration has failed to win international support for this war; mostly by thumbing our noses at our allies. Of the 2,307 "coalition" casualties, 2108 are Americans. That's over 91% of the casualties. Not so much of a coalition is it? And let's not forget the approximately 16,000 Americans who have been wounded.

On May 1, 2003, Bush declared the end of major combat and a HUGE sign over his head declared "Mission Accomplished". Since then, nearly all of our casualties have occurred. So, that leads me to question what "winning" actually means.

Remember when we were told that after we ousted Saddam, we would be greeted as liberators and welcomed into Iraq? Didn't happen.

Remember when we were told that after we placed a puppet regime in power, that we would see an end to the insurgency? Didn't happen.

Remember when we were told that after the Iraqi constitution was adopted, that we would see an end to the insurgency? Didn't happen.

Remember when we were told that the insurgency was in its last "throws" and that it would soon be over. Didn't happen.

Lieberman on Wednesday said failure in Iraq would be "catastrophic" for the United States and the entire Middle East. In my opinion, Lieberman is using the wrong tense. Our failure has been and continues to be catastrophic and we have lost.

It's time to gradually withdraw. Hopefully, the Iraqis can pull it together and see past their greed and differences and build their own country. The fact that the country will probably eventually end up as an Islamic Fundamentalist state, similar to Iran, is something that the Bush Administration should have known going into this war, and is now too late to do anything about. The seeds of hate and war have already been sown.

Of course, to withdraw means that the Bush Administration would have to admit defeat and realize that the ultimate/hidden goals of the war will not be achieved. We will not have a jumping-off point to attack other countries in the Middle East. We have not secured a virtually unlimited supply of oil (though the cost of oil being what it is, Cheney's and Bush's friends in the oil industry must be mighty pleased). We have however, guaranteed a "bumper-crop" of the next generation of terrorists - people who hate us because we came in, f#cked up their country, and killed their friends and family.

I find it ironic that we refuse to count the number of Iraqi civilians that we have injured or killed in this war, yet we somehow seem to believe that other people (i.e. insurgents) injuring or killing civilians is wrong. Until we wake up and smell the sh#t we've been shoveling, the world is going to remain a dangerous place, because the rest of the world sees through our lies and hates us for our actions.

-John Locke

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Burden of Proof

Here's a question... when beginning a preemptive war, who has the burden of proof- the country who is the aggressor or the country being invaded?

According to Cheney, Iraq had the burden of proof to prove somehow that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction...

"Although our coalition has not found WMD stockpiles in Iraq, I repeat that we never had the burden of proof. Saddam Hussein did. We operated on the best available intelligence gathered over a period of years and within a totalitarian society ruled by fear and secret police," Cheney said.

For those of you who have never had to prove a negative, this can be very hard to do - particularly when the leader of the aggressor country doesn't want to hear the true answer.

In this case, what the US did was essentially pick out someone and kill them, then turn around and say that the person that we killed had the burden of proof to prove that he wasn't a threat to us. Sound fair? It's not, which is why the world doesn't trust us anymore. The defense that Iraq had the burden of proof wouldn't fly in a courtroom, and the Bush Adminstration, if they could be tried by a war crimes tribunal, would be easily convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

-John Locke

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Conduct Unbecoming

Truth check:

The U.S. military admitted that our soldiers in Afghanistan burned the bodies of two dead Taliban guerrillas and taunted insurgents about it, but did not mean it as a desecration. Major General Joason Kamiya stated, "Our investigation found there was no intent to desecrate the remains, but only to dispose them for hygienic reasons."

1. The US Military did burn bodies. True

2. The US Military actually apparently did intend to desecrate the remains... Video footage shows two soldiers watching the bodies burn and one of them reading the following statement over a loudspeaker: "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be". So, in all honesty, that would be a blatantly false claim by the US Miltary.

Way to go, US Military!

-John Locke

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mo Alito

As Alito "distances" himself from his 1985 memo, let's remember the key phrase:

The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

Seems pretty clear to me...

You see, it's not just that he's personally opposed to abortion and that he wanted a job (as he now claims is the only reason why he wrote that memo). Instead, he believes (quite clearly, I might add) that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

So while a lot of democrats appear to be snowed under by the big piles of bullsh1t that are being shoveled around -- like "It was different then. I was an advocate seeking a job, a political job and that was 1985.", let's take a second to remember that:

1. Alito is still seeking a political job -- a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, and

2. Since 1985, we have had 20 years of conservatives chipping away at the right to an abortion.

Given that, "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," it's hard to imagine that Alito can even remotely be viewed as someone who hasn't already made up his mind on this issue and it is even more far-fetched to believe that Alito will vote to uphold Roe v. Wade in any meaningful fashion.

-John Locke

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Is Alito Serious?

Senator Kent Conrad, a democrat from North Dakota, said he and Alito recently discussed Alito's Roman Catholicism, but that they did not talk specifically about abortion. "He has never felt there was a conflict between his own moral precepts and the precepts of his church and his role as a judge," Conrad said.


Hello?!?! Never felt any conflicts???

The Catholic church is against birth control of any kind; the US legal system allows birth control. This is a conflict.

The Catholic church is nominally against the death penalty; the US legal system allows the death penalty. This is a conflict.

The Catholic church is vehemently against abortion; the US legal system allows the right to chose. This is a conflict.

The Catholic church is against gays and lesbians and has decreed that "practicing" homosexuality is not to be permitted; the US legal system now allows consenting adults to do pretty much whatever they want in the privacy of their own home. This is a conflict.

In fact, most Catholics will admit that they disagree on moral grounds with at least some of church doctrine. But somehow, Alito doesn't see any conflicts...

How can Alito claim that he has never felt a conflict between the church, his Precepts, and his role as a judge?!? Oh wait - is it because he's a fundamentalist or is it possibly because he's being untruthful?

-John Locke

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Save the 9th!

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Watch

Republicans in the House and the Senate are trying to fragment the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans, who control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and have appointed the majority of judges, want to torpedo the 9th Circuit – the last bastion of liberal ideals or even of moderate judicial philosophy…

Republicans want to isolate California from the rest of the country and make a new 12th Circuit for the remaining 7 states that are currently served by the 9th. Republicans insist that this is because the 9th Circuit is too large, despite the fact that the majority of judges on the 9th Circuit do not support the change.

Furthermore, the Republicans -- who consistently claim that they favor smaller government -- want to install another 60 judges to the appeals courts. Since the Republicans control the presidency and the Senate, they will be able to appoint ultraconservatives to dilute any moderate or liberal-leaning circuits, all but guaranteeing a monopoly of the courts by conservatives.

-John Locke

Howard Mintz writes:

The legislation to split the court, backed by House judiciary chair James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican, would create two appeals courts and essentially isolate California in a 9th Circuit joined only by Hawaii, Guam and the northern Mariana Islands. The rest of the states in the current 9th Circuit would shift to a new 12th Circuit.

Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Ensign of Nevada have co-sponsored nearly identical legislation in the Senate.

“It would be irresponsible for us not to act,” Murkowski said after recent hearings on the subject.

The latest movement is considered an unprecedented threat by those who favor keeping the 9th Circuit intact, which includes the vast majority of judges on the 9th Circuit; Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein; and much of the legal establishment. Foes of a split argue the court is efficient and any division would eliminate consistent application of federal law for 58 million people in its orbit.

"We're taking this very seriously,'' said Arizona-based 9th Circuit Chief Judge Mary Schroeder, a leader of opposition to the split.

There are a number of reasons for their concern. Republicans have made reshaping the judiciary a priority, and the 9th Circuit is considered a plum target because it is the only appeals court left dominated by Democratic appointees. Unlike past attempts to divide the court, the House and Senate versions not only call for splitting the 9th Circuit but also for adding new federal judges to courts around the country. The House version would add more than 60 federal judges nationwide, including seven to a newly formed 9th Circuit. Finally, the House legislation was attached last week to a budget spending-reduction bill, making it tougher for Democrats to torpedo it in the Senate, where the split effort has run aground in the past. Feinstein vowed to resist the maneuver, but everyone involved in the debate views the House approach as proof Republicans are pulling out all the stops to break up the court.


Monday, November 07, 2005

More Torture

Torture Watch

"We do not torture," Bush declared, responding to reports of secret CIA prisons. "We're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible, more possible, to do our job. There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet we will aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law." Meanwhile, Cheney is seeking to persuade Congress to exempt the CIA from the proposed torture ban.

So, let’s see… Bush wants Congress to enact a law legalizing torture so that torture will be legal and so Bush can say that he acted within the law.

The same day, U.S. command announced five soldiers from an elite unit were charged with abusing helpless prisoners.


I know, I know. It’s because in America, people are not innocent until proven guilty; they are guilty until proven innocent.

Plus, we have the movies and Hollywood to deal with. In the movies or on TV, the good guy captures a terrorist, who is dirty, unshaven, and clearly evil. The terrorist taunts the good guy, telling him that the bomb is set to go off in less than an hour and that there is no way to stop it. The good guy, forced to act, beats the crap out of the bad guy, who spills the beans where the bomb is. The good guy handcuffs the bad guy to a pole and runs off to save the innocent civilians. Torture has come to the rescue!

Reality is much worse. First of all, torture is inhumane. It also typically doesn’t yield reliable results, because the person being tortured will say whatever he or she thinks the interrogator wants to hear. Most importantly, torture is un-American; America stands for the right to due process, the right to see your accuser, the right to a fair and speedy trial, the right to an attorney…

Anything less than this means that we are stooping to the level of the terrorists, and if we do that, the terrorists really have already won.

-John Locke

Friday, November 04, 2005

Torture! Torture!! TORTURE!!!

Torture Watch

Torture is all the rage these days. Today, VP Cheney met with Republican senators to give an impassioned plea to allow torture of terror suspects.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack recently pled his case for prisons for terrorists, asking "How do you deal with individuals and groups of people that abide by no laws, they abide by no regulations, they don't respect any treaties, their sole purpose and sole intent is to try to kill innocent civilians?"

In a recent report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, the State Department offered its rationale for the imprisoning "enemy combatants" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, stating "There is no question that under the law of armed conflict, the United States has the authority to detain persons who have engaged in unlawful belligerence until the cessation of hostilities.”

Very good points. However, I can’t think of anyone who thinks the “WAR ON TERROR” will be over in our lifetimes. Not only is it convenient to have a bogeyman to scare and control the masses , but the sheer number of Iraqi families that have experienced injury or death at the hands of our troops in Iraq has guaranteed yet another generation of America-haters. So, the State Department claims that we must hold the prisoners ad infinitem or until they die. Fortunately, prisoners in our custody seem to die much more quickly than even Iraqi civilians, freeing up valuable prison space for even more prisoners.

Now, I have to ask – though I do not realistically expect an answer from anyone in authority – why, if we are so sure that these prisoners are terrorists, can’t we give them a fair trial? The answer is that we simply don’t have proof. So, because we think these people MIGHT be terrorists, we incarcerate them. Since we have no proof, we must hold them without charging them, without a trial, without legal representation, FOREVER.

Does this sound like traditional American values? Does this really sound like we’re winning the hearts and minds of the rest of the world? You have got to be sh#tting me.

To make matters worse, sometimes we torture the prisoners. We force them to do degrading things. We beat them. We deface their religious books. We prevent them from sleeping. We sic guard dogs on them. And occasionally, when things get really exciting, we kill them.

If someone is really bad and we can’t prove it, sometimes we hand that prisoner over to a government that will definitely torture them or kill them. Of course, in order to do that, we need an affidavit from the country stating that they won’t torture them – respectable countries with long histories of humane treatment of prisoners… like Egypt. And our government officials are more than willing to “believe” the affidavit and hand over the prisoner.

Two days ago, the Washington Post reported that the CIA runs secret overseas prisons all over the world. Let’s suppose, just for a moment that these rumors are false: how can we possibly address the world with a straight face, state that the prisons do not exist, and expect to be believed? I think the only convincing argument would be to state that we can torture prisoners in any of our prisons whenever we want, so we have absolutely no need for secret prisons. That, at least, would be believable.

-John Locke

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alito and the Conflict of Interest

Supreme Court Watch

Regarding the Boston Globe article on Judge Alito...

Boston Globe

Realistically, it's not a conflict of interest and Vanguard appears to have been acting properly. However, the fact remains that Alito gave sworn testimony to Congress at his 1990 confirmation hearings and promised to recuse himself from any cases involving Vanguard. Then, when a case involving Vanguard came across his bench, he didn't recuse himself, and the chief administrative judge was forced to vacate the decision due to a possible conflict of interest. Then Alito complained that his decision was vacated.

When this was brought to the White House's attention, they opted to take the high road... and lie...

Dana Perino, the White House Spokesliar, wrote this response via e-mail:

''These facts remain: Judge Alito had no financial interest in the company involved in this case, he immediately recused himself to avoid any hint of a conflict, his opinion was vacated and the plaintiff's case was taken up by a new panel, and his answer on the questionnaire obviously refers to any matter in which he would have a financial stake."
Asked why Alito did not recuse himself after learning that it involved Vanguard, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino criticized those who are raising questions about Alito's actions. ''Clearly there are some who are trying to tarnish the reputation of a lifelong public servant who is praised for his integrity, fairness, and temperament from people from all walks of life"

Let's look at this claim in more detail:

Claim Number 1:

Judge Alito had no financial interest in the company involved in this case

Locke's Finding of Fact:
True. The mutual fund "stock" that Locke owned was not in jeopardy from any ruling that he might make.

Claim Number 2:

he immediately recused himself to avoid any hint of a conflict

Locke's Finding of Fact:
False. He issued a ruling that had to be vacated. He did not avoid any hint of a conflict.

Claim Number 3:

his opinion was vacated and the plaintiff's case was taken up by a new panel

Locke's Finding of Fact:

Claim Number 4:

his answer on the questionnaire obviously refers to any matter in which he would have a financial stake

Locke's Finding of Fact:
False. His questionnaire did not obviously refer to this. In fact, in 1990, Alito said in written answers to the questionnaire that he would disqualify himself from ''any cases involving the Vanguard companies." He did not state that he would have to have a financial stake in the company in order to disqualify himself.

SO, let's tally the White House's final score:

2 Lies, 2 Truths, and 1 attempt to criticize people who would dare to question the qualifications of someone who is up for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. All in a day's work for a White House Spokesliar.

As for Alito, sure there was no real conflict of interest, but the real way to deal with conflicts of interest is to ensure that there is not even an appearance of a conflict. This apparent conflict of interest ended up costing the taxpayers money because the decision had to be vacated and a new decision had to be reached.

Furthermore, the fact that in 1990 Alito was specifically asked about and specifically stated that he would recuse himself from any case involving Vanguard -- and then the fact that he didn't -- make one want to question his integrity.

-John Locke