Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Why? Because states have already been thwarted in their efforts to make these decisions. The problem is not voters or legislators. They overwhelmingly support traditional marriage. Thirty-seven states have enacted laws in recent years--19 by referendum, the others by statute--to bar gay marriage. The problem is judges. On May 16, a Georgia judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, which had been enacted in 2004 with 76 percent of the vote. The judge seized on a technical point, ruling the referendum covered two issues, same-sex marriage and civil unions, and not one, as Georgia law required. In truth, the referendum was drafted to deal with one issue, the protection of heterosexual marriage. At least nine states face lawsuits challenging their traditional marriage laws.In Nebraska as well, a federal judge on May 12 nullified a referendum barring gay marriage. And in Massachusetts, the state supreme court by a 4-3 vote imposed same sex marriage, basing its decision on a state constitution adopted centuries before gay marriage became an issue."
Massachusetts voters can amend (and have in fact started the process of doing so) their state constitutional amendment so they can bar gay marriage. Georgia's anti-gay marriage proponents can of course, try again by proposing two amendments, one to ban gay marriage and one to ban gay civil unions and any other "marriage lite" provisions that some might offer to gay couples. To the extent that the supreme court judges in Massachusetts and the lower court judge in Georgia (whose ruling could be appealed) denied state residents of their chance to be heard and vote on the issue , it is at worst a temporary deprivation that can be remedied at the state level.
The Nebraska federal judge's ruling would trouble anti-gay marriage advocates for good reason but there is a good chance that it too, will be overturned by the Circuit Court of Appeals. And if, perchance, an amendment were needed to provide voters with a chance to vote on this issue, one that was more narrowly tailored to provide the residents of each state with such a vote (as opposed to one that denied them the option of voting for gay marriage) could be crafted and passed by the Senate and House.
Those who want the public to think of this in terms of marriage protection and not gay bashing should do themselves a favor and vote for a narrower Protection of State Hetero-Marital Federalism amendment and they won't hold that vote on National Coming Out Week or Gay Pride Month.
(Full disclosure: This blogger supports gay marriage rights but opposes a Supreme Court-centered approach. He opposes Reynolds v. United States on First Amendment religious establishment/expression grounds and would like to see it reversed without any reliance upon its privacy rights precedents).
Here's the money quote (bold faced my emphasis):
Yet the critics are wrong. There is a deep connection between monogamy and democracy, a link easily separated from nineteenth-century racial attitudes. Even the presumed prejudice of the period is less than meets the eye. The Reynolds Court carefully reviewed jury selection procedures in the polygamy case to make sure that passions and prejudice had been screened out. And Francis Lieber's antislavery views eventually led him to move to the North, where he spoke and wrote as an abolitionist."and here:
"Why were Americans outraged by polygamy? In a word, because of love. The idea of love as central to marriage, by no means common in the world at large, has a long history in the West, going back to the Bible, notably the letters of Paul. Even so, romantic love as the fundamental pillar of marriage (alongside parenthood, of course) truly came into its own in the mid-nineteenth century. Polygamy was an offense against love, the structural glue of American marriage. To those who valued companionate love, polygamy seemed little better than slavery.Far from denying this, Mormon theorists openly attacked the romantic sensibility. Polygamist leaders called on Mormons to sacrifice selfish and disruptive romantic desires, building marriages instead on simple friendship and piety."
And that attack upon the "romantic sensibility" and our invidualistic values, Mr. Kurtz says, are what the original Mormons, some present day fringe Mormons, and pro-polygamous Muslims rely upon today to make their system work:
"Yet Campbell never stops to ask what it takes to make polygamy work. The answer: a set of rules and attitudes that could never be imported to North America, except in the few closed, authoritarian communities where "patriarchal" polygamy actually flourishes today. The Bamanan deflect jealousy by deemphasizing love. Bamanan marriages are arranged by families, and a sleep-rotation schedule damps down individual attachments. Economic success depends on having a large family labor force, and jealousy over newcomers is countered by apprenticing junior wives to senior wives, who closely supervise their daily work.
This same emphasis on rules and hierarchy within a tightly bound group explains why the Bedouin children studied by Al-Krenawi turn out all right. Things get better when Bedouin kids grow up and receive surrogate parenting from their extended kin. But that depends on giving up what Al-Krenawi calls "the Western liberal conception of individual autonomy." To get all that surrogate parenting, the Bedouin adopt an "authoritarian and group-oriented" identification with an extended family and tribe. And consider "sororal polygamy," easily the most emotionally successful variant of polygamy world-wide. In sororal polygamy, a man marries a set of sisters, minimizing jealousy. It's a clever strategy, but just try adapting such kin-based preferences and arranged marriages to the United States."And how does gay marriage lead us to polygamy? Gay marriage (and gay rights in more general) seem to rely upon the very ethos which polgamy opposes. If anything, polygamists and traditionally-minded Christian theocrats should be fighting side-by-side against liberals, feminists, gays, and anyone who believes in a love-centric marital system.
So what does Mr. Kurtz say in answer to this?
"More important, by training us to see marriage as a civil rights issue, gay marriage advocates have largely defanged all of these structural arguments. Redefining the family is increasingly seen as a fundamental right. And the courts are beginning to agree. In his prize-winning law review essay "Polygamist Eye for the Monogamist Guy," Michael Myers argues that if the Supreme Court interprets Lawrence v. Texas the way the Massachusetts Supreme Court did in its decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the right to polygamy will logically follow.
The solution is to treat marriage as a social institution whose fundamental purpose is to encourage mothers and fathers to build stable families for the children they create. Same-sex marriage breaks this understanding, thus encouraging the sort of unstable parental cohabitation we see in Europe, where cohabiting parents break up at two to three times the rate of married parents. And polygamy undercuts companionate monogamy, the only form of marriage that can function in a modern liberal society. What's needed, then, is the revitalization of a richer understanding of marriage as a culturally specific social form--precisely the approach taken in Reynolds v. United States.
Unfortunately, movement is now in the opposite direction. Jonathan Turley's latest opinion piece for USA Today signals an all-too-plausible scenario for the final slide down the slippery slope. In 2004, Turley defended the right to polygamy. Now, in 2006, Turley is calling for the abolition of marriage as a legal status and its replacement by a system of infinitely flexible "civil union" contracts. This general disestablishment of marriage may be the most likely route from here to polygamy.
For now, the taboo on polygamy/polyamory makes it difficult for practitioners to defend themselves publicly. They must rely instead on advocacy by mainstream liberals like Turley. Those who scoff at fear of the slippery slope argue that, whatever the logic of the law, without an active advocacy movement, polygamy and polyamory will never be recognized. Turley himself conceded, a mere year-and-a-half before Big Love's debut, that polygamists would never gain the kind of social acceptance that comes from a sympathetic television show. That spectacularly mistaken prediction underestimated the extent to which polygamists and polyamorists can depend upon help from civil rights advocates, libertarians, lifestyle radicals, and the Hollywood left, all of whom would like to "get the state out of the marriage business."
But Turley's greatest ally may be religious traditionalists themselves, who will push to separate marriage and state once same-sex marriage gains a foothold. With same-sex marriage nationalized, and the emergence of an open polyamorists'-rights movement, traditionalists will demand that the state get out of the marriage business. That might temporarily protect a few traditionalist enclaves, but it would also effectively remove the broader social supports for stable, monogamous, parenthood-focused marriage. If that happens, intentional single-motherhood and European-style parental cohabitation are likely to proliferate, as are a raft of experiments in open marriage, polygamy, and polyamory. Family variety will markedly increase, while family stability will continue to erode. The precipitous decline of marriage already seen in parts of Europe and the African-American community will take hold in mainstream America. Welcome to the bottom of the slope."If the battle for polygamy rights is grounded upon the right to privacy utilized by gay rights advocates, unmarried heterosexual couples, and marital couples who do not want children, Mr. Kurtz is right. Lawrence v. Texas would have contributed to yet one more stepping stone towards polgamy if (and here is the if, the court rules for gay marital rights and then for polygamous marital privacy rights) but the arguments for and against gay marriage (and the gay rights movement in more general) and polygamy are separable.
The polygamous movement can rely upon the First Amendment's religious establishment and expression clauses to invalidate Reynolds v. United States without contributing to the line of precedents which ultimately would be used to uphold gay marriage or by free-love advocates in general who want to see the marital institution collapse while anti-polygamists (as well as gay marriage advocates who want to calm respectable opponents who fear polygamy) can rely upon the "rational basis" argument developed hear (remember, the Court in Lawrence narrowly relied upon the "rational basis test" to protect gay intimacy, thereby conserving its right to oppose gay marital and the predominantly heterosexual polygamous rights).
If, it is hoped, the Courts refuse to weigh in on these topics and let these battles take place in state legislatures, Mr. Kurtz' fears are groundless.The "rational basis" for banning polygamous behavior in a country that values liberty and gender equality is far greater than the "rational basis" for banning gay marital rights.
Mr. Kurt's fear towards polygamy are even more perplexing. We already have the right to marry or not marry, to be single (celibate or not) or coupled and even in many states. The right to private consensual sexual activities extends to premarital and extra-marital activities alike. Gay sex by court order is legal (though few would choose this option since it one whose propensity to act upon it depends in large part on one's propensity to be attracted to one of the same sex). Contraception for married and unmarried couple alike is protected by court order. Adultery and bestiality have been decriminalized in some states (though few would opt for the latter "lifestyle" choice) and prostitution laws are unequally enforced. Those searching for "free love" won't opt for a "lifestyle" choice that rejects love when they could satisfy their cravings at the local house of prostitution or by "working late at the office."
And why argue against a code that offers those who choose it a means to reject and step back from the slippery slope rights he fears will be granted. If the love-centric attitude adopted by gay and straight alike is bad, why reject polygamy on the grounds that it rejects that it rejects that ethos? I don't get it.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Border Fight Divides G.O.P.
WASHINGTON, May 25 — The negotiations between the White House and Congress that will follow the Senate's passage on Thursday of an immigration bill could decide not just how the nation confronts illegal immigration but also what strain of conservatism the Republican Party carries into the midterm elections and beyond.
Will it be the compassionate brand Mr. Bush considers crucial to the party's future, in this case by signaling support for a provision in the Senate bill that would give most illegal immigrants an opportunity to become legal? (the good guys) Or will it be the more doctrinaire variety embraced by much of Mr. Bush's party in the House (for as we all should know, conservatism perfected has no room for compassion), one that shuns anything that smacks of amnesty for illegal immigrants and seeks to criminalize (because the illegal immigrant is not the one trying to do something illegal; its the state that outlaws conduct which once considered legal).
The 62-to-36 vote in the Senate was a victory for a fragile bipartisan coalition.
It will now be challenged in negotiations with the House. While the Senate bill calls for tougher border security, the establishment of a guest worker program and a plan to allow millions of illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens if they meet certain conditions, the House bill is focused on border control.
As on several issues, especially the increase in federal spending under Mr. Bush, immigration has shown Republicans to be struggling to define what they stand for.
Since Mr. Bush's influence among Republicans has ebbed with his poll numbers, the outcome of the intraparty battle rests in large part with the House leadership, especially the speaker, J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, and the new majority leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio. They have kept their options open, but neither has shown enthusiasm for moving substantially toward the Senate position.
Some well-known Republicans came out in support of a comprehensive plan, (it's comprehensive, trust me) and argued that progress was possible (for support of this comprehensive plan can only be seen as a step towards progress). But it does not help the prospects for a deal that relations between the administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are especially chilly at the moment because of the showdown about whether the Justice Department overstepped constitutional bounds over the weekend by raiding the office of a member of Congress (and please remind us who the real criminals are, as opposed to those which these crooks in Washington "seek to criminalize further")
Mr. Bush has made clear that he wants to sign an immigration bill this year, and his ability to pull his fractured party (like the Whig party) together on the issue may be the starkest test yet of whether he has enough remaining strength to drive any agenda at all for the remainder of his second term.
Mr. Hastert has indicated he will go only so far for the president. He has expressed some openness (he is not, afterall, a close-minded "doctrinaire" conservative bigot) to Mr. Bush's guest worker proposals, but has more often emphasized enforcement against illegal immigrants and their employers, and securing the border, as top priorities (Heaven forbid someone care about such trivial side issues like border security and law enforcement).
That Mr. Bush has chosen to put so much capital behind an issue so divisive within his own party — and during an election year in which Republican prospects seem particularly grim — (what a shame) has bewildered some conservatives.
"Clearly, Bush is not in tune with where I think the bulk of the Republican Party is today," said Bruce Bartlett, a conservative critic of the president who worked for Mr. Bush's father's administration and that of Ronald Reagan. "He's getting hammered on a lot of the talk-radio shows, and I kind of wonder what the motivation was."
Mr. Bartlett said he could only surmise that the issue was so close to Mr. Bush's heart (he, unlike those "doctrinaire" types who express at most "some openness" is a compassionate conservative) that he was willing to risk further division within his party to see his plan, or some close version of it, become law.
Mr. Bush's aides and allies are only too happy to agree that the president's personal conviction is at play.
They clearly see a chance to show the president as leading on principle (which only works for the president but not for the "doctrinaire" types).
"He's got to lead his country and the party in a direction he thinks is right," Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor, said. But some allies have argued in interviews that Republicans who are pushing solely to criminalize illegal workers fail to understand that Mr. Bush's approach will broaden the party and make it more appealing to Hispanic voters.
"The party can't be a dominant party without reaching out to minority communities, especially Latinos," said Matthew Dowd, Mr. Bush's chief strategist in the 2004 campaign, who has also worked for Democrats (because this opposition towards a "comprehensive plan" is motiviated by racism and ethnic chauvinism).
But Mr. Dowd and others acknowledge that the president and Congress will have to proceed carefully as they try to craft an immigration overhaul that legalizes a foreign work force, which business leaders want badly, even as it strictly enforces the law and seals the border.
Some Republicans suggest that the solution is to jettison the citizenship provisions of the Senate bill, but retain its guest worker program, which was the focus of Mr. Bush's original proposal. But it is not clear that the Senate would accept such a deal.(Page 2 of 2)
"If we have the right mix of border security and a guest worker (1 tablespoon of walls and enforcement, 3 tablespoons of green cards) or temporary worker program," said Ed Gillespie, a Republican lobbyist who is a close White House ally, "we can continue to hold rank-and-file conservative Republicans, as well as continue to gain votes with Hispanics as we have in the past two cycles."
Aides to Mr. Bush liken their strategy to that of arms negotiators during the cold war: by first bringing the two sides together on matters of agreement and then moving onto the issues that divide them.
But as of now all indications are that once the negotiators move from the border security measures that both sides can support to guest worker and citizenship provisions that conservative House members oppose, they will hit a wall.
And it is unclear how much Mr. Bush, with the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, will be able to prevail upon hard-liners (they are too "doctrinaire and refuse to compromise, unlike those who believe in open borders and citizenship rights for illegal immigrants) who face tough campaigns this fall. Though Mr. Bush's allies argue that those most vocally opposed to anything beyond border security are in the minority of the party (please insert poll statistics with info gathering method here)— and indeed the country — they matter especially in elections. And they are angry. (angry but can they be principled enough to win the support Mr. Bush does by standing up for what he believes in?)
"He's facing an open rebellion," said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative direct-mail veteran and one of those openly rebelling. "And he's determined to force something down the throats of the conservatives that's going to cause them to abandon him in droves in 2006."
With so many in the House agreeing with Mr. Viguerie's view, it is difficult to handicap whether the president will get a comprehensive immigration law before fall. That possibility has prompted a frenetic round of discussions among Republicans about whether it would be best to put the House-Senate negotiations off until after the elections.
There is no clear consensus about how to proceed, but few argue that delay would be good for Mr. Bush, who badly needs a victory right now.
"If he can bring this one off, it won't necessarily save his presidency," said William A. Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the liberal-leaning research organization. "But if he doesn't, I think he loses everything except the title of the office."
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Mrs. Ackerman should be able to overcome her state of shock and sadness. Students were provided with a sticker with the missing words so those who wanted their yearbook cover including the religious reference could put the sticker on and those who did not could throw theirs away.
Hyperbole"we would like to express our regrets for any distress. " - Superintendent James Veitenheimer in his formal letters, apologizing to those who share Mrs. Ackerman's concerns.
"We live in a politically correct world, and every decision we make is under scrutiny," - school district spokesman Jason Meyer.
Monday, May 22, 2006
We have lots to discuss. I want to start, though, with the situation involving Iran and its nuclear ambitions. What's Israel's estimate? How much longer before Iran has a nuclear bomb?
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: First of all, thank you very much, Wolf, for inviting me to this program, which I was very proud to take part in many times in the past in different capacities.
The issue of Iran is a very serious one. And the question is not when, technically, they will be in possession of nuclear bomb. The question is when will they cross the technological line that will allow them at any given time, within six or eight months, to have nuclear bomb?
And this technological threshold is nearer than we anticipated before. This is because they are already engaged very seriously in enrichment. So in other words, we are close enough to the possible possession of a nuclear weapon by the most extreme fundamentalist government, which talks openly and publicly about the wiping out of the state of Israel. That's where we are.
BLITZER: Well, what does that mean in terms of the time line? Do you believe it's months away, years away from crossing that technological threshold, as you say?
OLMERT: The technological threshold is very close. It can be measured by months rather than years.
BLITZER: So what does that mean from Israel's perspective? A lot of us remember the Israeli action in 1981 against the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the facility at Osirak. You remember that Israeli strike. Is Israel planning a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities?
OLMERT: At that time, Wolf, you'll remember that most of the international community, including your country, were entirely unaware of the danger of Iraq and of the possible nuclear weapons possessed by Iraq. And therefore, at that time, when we sensed that the international community is not aware, we were left with no other option but to attack Iraq ourselves.
Now there is an entirely different situation. America and Europe are leading this international effort. It is now on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, and many countries are involved in trying to stop this, and I hope that they will succeed.
We will certainly try to convince other countries how urgent it is and why it is so important that, at this time before they cross the technological threshold, that the measures will be taken to stop them.
But thank God now it's widely recognized by the international community, and therefore, Israel doesn't have to act on its own."
Monday's The Dallas Morning News showcases its report on the women giving birth through caesarean sections. The Los Angeles Times, which was last updated as of 9:52 pm May 21 reports on the findings that may cast doubt on the government's plans to repair levees in New Orleans, the Iraqis' lack of faith in their government, the Dodgers' sweep of the "Freeway Series," and accusations from a spy that he once was told to frame an Islamic scholar. The New York Times reports on banking laws to force Iran into submission over nuclear weapons, the Mets' victory over the Yankees, the emerging scandal implicating Democratic Representative William J. Jefferson, an analysis of Mayor C. Ray Nagin's re-election in New Orleans, and a report from Sunday concerning our failure to restore law and order in Iraq.
And The Chicago Tribune showcases reports on Sox-Cubs game, a hit-and-run, the arrest of a suspect who may be involved in Natalee Holloway's disappearance, and a "fluke of nature" shipwreck.
Go figure. Absent from these and probably other newspapers is any report on comments Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made on CNN Late Edition Sunday concerning Iran's progress in uranium enrichment. Mr. Olmert says the Iranians may very well have the technological capacity to build a nuclear device at will within months. Mr. Olmert said he does not believe Israel will have to act alone and pre-emptively strike since the international ocmmunity at large appears to know about Iran's threat but this is still front-page material worthy of distribution in every newspaper. Mr. Olmert's timetable may or may not be accurate so newspaper reporters would have to gather information that either buffers or weakens his claim in follow-up articles but the press still should have an Associated Press article or one of their own reports online by now.
A report on the Republicans' political strategy for the mid-term elections may be interesting and newsworthy and the story on the potential Triple Crown horse's surgery may be of importance to its owners, rider, and horse lovers but their importance pales in comparison to one detailing another country's progress in acquiring the technology necessary to make nuclear weapons.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
1. Face The Nation: (a) Immigration Debate and (b) the nomination of General Michael Hayden to be the new CIA director. Guests include U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin).
2. Fox News Sunday: Two interviews. (a) Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and (b) Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
3. Late Edition: The threat level Iran poses if it acquires the capacity of making nuclear weapons and the measures, including pre-emptive strikes, Israel may take to deny them that opportunity. Guests include Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) of the Foreign Relations Committee and Select Intelligence Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) of the Select Intelligence Committee, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalizad, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Iraq's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Feisal al-Istrabadi.
4. This Week: (a) U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez on the immigration reform debate and the nomination of General Michael Hayden to be the next CIA director. (b) interview with former senator and Democratic vice presidential running mate John Edwards on education and the race for The White House. (c) Round table discussion with Fareed Zakariah of Newsweek, Cokie Roberts of ABC News, and George F. Will of The Washington Post and ABC News.
5. Meet The Press: (a) Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the the war in Iraq and political negotiations, domestic surveillance, and the Iran nuclear standoff. (b) Immigration debate between Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Representative Charlie Norwood (R-Georgia).
Other Political Talk Shows
1. The Beltway Boys: (a) immigration reform and its potential to "make or break" the president and the Republicans in Congress, (b) Karl Rove on the "media's obsession" with poll numbers, (c) whether former Vice President Al Gore is staging a political comeback.
2. Heartland: (a) Animal expert John Corwin on the recent alligator attacks in Florida, (b) the latest mystery concerning the search for a missing person last seen on a cruise ship, (c) home improvement "guru" Bob Vila.
3. Fox News Watch: (a) press coverage on the immigration reform debate, (b) the indicted Duke University lacrosse team captain declares his innocence in public, (c) White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's performance, (d) Former football player O.J. Simpson's return to TV, Britney Spear's baby.
4. The Chris Matthews Show: no update as of yet.
1. Dateline NBC Sunday: (a) Oprah Winfrey speaks about the her future, spirituality, her thoughts on fame and fortune, and how "The Color Purple" transformed her life. (b) Berkeley Engineering Research Center of the University of California sponsors a demonstration showing an earthquake's destructive power and the means by which to survive one.
2. Nightline: (a) an interview with a sperm donor who may have fathered hundreds through his DNA, (b) Lionel Riche as an icon in Iraq, (c) an interview with teenagers who committed shocking crimes, (d) "happy slapping."
3. 60 Minutes: a one-hour tribute to the program's own Mike Wallace.
4. CBS Sunday Morning: (a) Minda Gralnick of Target explains how "design" is good for the bottom line. (b) finding garbage cans and computers at an art museum- a talk with Paola Antonelli of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
5. 48 Hours: The disappearance of a soldier who returned from Iraq.
1. Saturday Night Live: Season finale includes guest host Kevin Spacey and musical guest Nelly Furtado.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Senator James M. Inhofe's amendment does little to change the cultural climate, however since it does not outlaw bilingual education and multilingual voting ballots and it does nothing to address the immigration control supporters' main concerns. Illegal immigrants will still be crossing the borders and until that is appropriately addressed through tougher enforcement and deterrence practices no bill is worth signing.
"The president himself boasted about having already increased the number of border guards by one-third under his administration. Yet he acknowledges in the same speech that we do not have the border under control -- "full control," as he comically put it. The president's new solution? Increase the number of border guards again, by half this time. Everyone knows that anything short of enough border guards to do Hands Across America from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean won't do a thing to eliminate illegal immigration.
The only thing that might work is a physical barrier. The president offhandedly dismisses a wall as something that could never stop the "enormous pressure on our border."
By what logic? Opponents pretend that these barriers can always be circumvented by, say, tunnels or clandestine entry by sea. Such arguments are transparently unserious. You're hardly going to get 500,000 illegals lining up outside a tunnel or on a pier. Such choke points are exactly how you would turn the current river of illegal immigrants into narrow streams -- which is all we need to turn the illegal immigration problem from out of control to eminently manageable." - Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post
Thursday, May 18, 2006
"An aggressively annoying new phrase in America's political lexicon is "values voters." It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.
This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots." - George F. Will in today's The Washington Post.
Mr. Will says we should discard the "values voter" label description used to describe those voters who vote for socially conservative ideas (abortion restrictions, abstinence-only education, prayer in schools and in public places, school vouchers and other loans/funding measures for religious institutions, opposition to gay rights, etc).By the way, this is but one more example Mr. Jesse Walker at Reason Magazine can point to.
Something tells me this doesn't pass the constitutional smell test.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
"My point here is not to say one position is more right than the other. Drugs and immigration are, ultimately, very different things, and it’s the differences that explain why the analogy isn’t perfect. Citizenship, sovereignty, rule of law: These things are rendered meaningless if the distinction between legal and illegal immigration is meaningless.
But the key similarity is important. Most opponents of the drug war came to their position because they consider the effort worthy in principle, but ultimately futile in the face of a more determined “enemy,” and a bit silly since the gains of winning aren’t that important to them. The burgeoning war against illegal immigration has already been preemptively surrendered by many for roughly the same reasons. What that says about America probably depends on what you think about illegal immigrants or drugs." - Jonah Goldberg in The National Review, making an observation comparing the drug war to the illegal immigration war.
Here's the money quote:
"You have 60 days to arrange your affairs and leave. If you leave during this exit amnesty period and have committed no other crimes against the American people, you will suffer no penalty or recriminations. You will not be harassed or persecuted in any manner while you depart from our nation. You may show your appreciation for the better wages and working conditions we have provided you by obeying our laws.
If you leave voluntarily, you will be free to enter the U.S. in the future without prejudice or discrimination. You will be allowed to apply for lawful immigration to the U.S. in the future. However, you will be given no special privileges and will have to wait in line like every one else. And you will have to wait in your country not ours.
However, make no mistake, this time we are very serious. If you do not take advantage of our generous offer, and if you are caught after our amnesty ends, you will be banned from the U.S. for life. You will never be readmitted to the U.S. for any reason whatsoever. If you attempt to return to the U.S. after you are banned, you will be criminally prosecuted. If you want the opportunity to visit the U.S. in the future, if you hope to immigrate to the U.S., you must demonstrate your respect for our laws now—by leaving."
"To help enforce this law, we will pay half of all fines collected or moneys received from the sale of confiscated property to those who report illegal aliens. We will provide another 800 number for anyone who even suspects that an illegal alien is on their company’s payroll.
I call upon every American worker to look around you. Is your company profiting from the exploitation of illegal aliens? Here is your chance to en help enforce the law and obtain a benefit from doing so. Of course, you will be fully protected from penalties that your employer might with to impose. In this nation, we protect those who help enforce the law, not those who break it.
I say to every employer who is obeying our laws. Thank you for doing the right thing by hiring Americans and paying them properly. If, however, your business has been hurt by those who cheat and steal from the American people, now you can do something about it. Report any competitors who employ illegal aliens and put them out of business."I don't think the businesses will report on each other. The companies could avoid this unfair advantage issue by agreeing to flout immigration law together unless, of course the biometric identification system is installed in each business that agrees to hire migrant workers from other countries. The push for a national hotline may deter would-be illegal immigrants from sneaking into our country. It would put them on notice. We are after you and there is no place to hide. If you do not apply for a visa, you are not wanted.
But don't count on anything as meaningful as this in the current senate. It just voted down a reasonable amendment that sets an important condition upon any guest worker program - border security must be resolved first.
The state senator has the right attitude. Too bad his governor will veto the bill should the Assembly vote for it.
"Let's have a heart and help the children," - State Senator Ed Ableser.
Nope. Sorry. The children of Darfur and many other countries have it far worse yet we don't hear about them sneaking via cargo ship into our country.
"This seems like another one of those pseudo-solutions this administration has pulled together at the last minute to appeal to hard-liners in their party" - rancher Melissa Owens
That it is. The 6,000 National Guard troops will not apprehend illegal immigrants and they are too few in number to effectively put an end to illegal border crossings. The Republican base wants tough border control and Mr. Bush needed to provide those who represent them something they can take back to their district suggesting that Washington is serious about immigration reform.
"We as a nation seek not only security but justice." - Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau in The Juneau Empire
Does the United States act unjustly when it denies applicants work visas or student visas? Does the United States act unjustly whenever it turns down one's request for political asylum? If not, how can we say that the United States is acting unjustly when it was denied the chance to evaluate the claims of those now demanding amnesty and American citizenship because they failed to abide by our immigration laws and apply for a work visa?
How is it just to extend to them the compassion they may not not been granted and we may not have been responsible for had they, unlike those who actually respected our laws and filed for a visa, not made a home for themselves without our authorization?
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
...Yet as American forces became bogged down in Iraq, Col. Gadhafi's enthusiasm for giving up his WMD programs seemed to wane. Libya had yet to acknowledge even that it possessed banned weapons and programs, a senior official told me. And while the Libyans had agreed in principle to let a team of U.S.-U.K. weapons experts visit sites in Libya, no date had been set. "No agreement on a date meant there was essentially no agreement on a visit," the official said. The talks stalled.
The diplomatic lull soon ended, however. Libyans close to the Gadhafi family told me that after Saddam Hussein's sons were killed in a shootout with U.S. soldiers in Mosul in July 2003, Safiya, Col. Gadhafi's wife, angrily demanded that he do more to ensure that Saif and her other sons would not share a similar fate. Then, in early October 2003, the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Italy interdicted the "BBC China," a German ship destined for Libya that the Americans had been tracking for nearly a year. A U.S. intelligence official informed the Libyans that the five 40-foot containers marked "used machine parts" that were offloaded from the ship contained thousands of centrifuge parts to enrich uranium, manufactured in Malaysia by the A.Q. Khan network. Stunned by the discovery, Libya fast-tracked its long-promised invitation to the British and U.S. experts to tour suspect sites." - Judith Miller
Mr. Bush touted his support for a "guest worker program" and as of last night clearly endorsed the approach adopted by Senate Democrats and Republicans who are working on a provision that would provide illegal immigrants with a path toward eventual American citizenship. He employed rhetoric consistent with the "compromise" proposed by Senators Mel Martinez (R-Florida) and Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska):
The senators broke illegal immigrants down into three groups, one group would be allowed to stay within the United States and be granted with a path toward American citizenship, a second group would be required to briefly leave the United States and re-admitted as part of a guest worker provision and a third group of recent arrivals who would have to return to their home country.
Many law-abiding conservatives who support tough border control measures think this plan, like the McCain-Kennedy and Arlen Specter packages, unfairly rewards those who flouted our laws by sneaking across the border by granting them amnesty.
To those who believe this gives the illegal immigrants an unfair advantage over those who waited before they were invited to work and reside within our country and those who in spite of their respect for our laws were ultimately denied that privilege after a long wait, Mr. Bush's speech offered no comfort. He sought to legitimize his support for potential citizenship by tying it that cause made on behalf of illegal immigrants with those who came through at Ellis Island.
"Fifth, we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language. English is also the key to unlocking the opportunity of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery, … from cleaning offices to running offices, … from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, ... they renew our spirit ... and they add to the unity of America."
"We will always be proud to welcome people like Guadalupe Denogean as fellow Americans. Our new immigrants are just what they’ve have always been: people willing to risk everything for the dream of freedom. And America remains what she has always been: the great hope on the horizon, … an open door to the future, … a blessed and promised land. We honor the heritage of all who come here, no matter where they are from, because we trust in our country’s genius for making us all Americans, one nation under God."
We of course are a nation of immigrants. The Scotch, Irish, Germans, Italians, Poles, and Russians who came into this country through Ellis Island however, entered this country the legal way. Most law-and-order conservatives and liberals who oppose amnesty are not opposed to immigration, provided that it is done in a controlled and legal manner.
The senate amnesty packages all include a provision for a worker ID card and electronic fingerprinting. Most plans include funding for more full-time Border Patrol troops and funding for state and local law enforcement programs geared toward immigration control. Bush has offered the law-and-order conservatives and liberals nothing new which woudl suggest a change in opinion.
Friday, May 12, 2006
... To be P.C., you have to search actively for deviations from it, no matter how dubious, petty, or obscure. The ritual of outrage and punishment is more important than the offense itself; indeed, it's OK to change the rules, or invent new rules on the spot, if that keeps the faithful in a state of high dudgeon." - Jesse Walker in Reason
A column you don't want to miss. Speaking of which
Thursday, May 11, 2006
School board president Phyllis Carlson said the administration will appeal in order in part to test when and how they can enforce their policies against pro-drug messages and they have enlisted the aid of former White House prosecutor and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr who promised to aid them free of cost. The administrators obviously would not oppose students who displayed anti-drug messages on their banners.
One lawyer who attended the meeting, Paul Grant raised what has been the common refrain from those of us who in general reject censorship and one recited by conservatives and libertarians who oppose hate crime legislation and the broadly worded school-harrassment policies (examples of left wing political correctness) "The solution to speech that you don't like is not to punish it. ... The solution is to have a better message, and that's the lesson these people need to learn," he is quoted as saying in The Juneau Empire
For most people, this would be a difficult case. Parents do not want their children surrounded by drugs or in anyway given the false impression that support for drug use is acceptable and they logically would oppose those who would defend the right to express values that might hamper their efforts to send that anti-drug message.
But the same can be said about the hypothetical student who wears a shirt advertising beer sales, a particular beer company (say Budweiser, Guinness, or Coors), or the fun in drinking. These messages too may be deeply offensive and frightening for the parents involved in Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and conflict with a school district's stated policy against underage drinking and consequently get banned, as would a pro-gay or more general safe-sex message in conflict with the school's stated position favoring abstinence or a message denying contraceptive safety statisticus used in a school district that endorsees the safer sex message.
The PoliticalHeretic rejects such speech on First Amendment grounds and has, on numerous occasions suggested that our right to free speech is protected only when that which is most at risk of censorship is protected. Josef Stalin, Adolf HItler, Robert Mugable, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini and other tyrants from past, present and most likely future afterall, would protect free speech too, if the speech in question was favorable or agreeable to them. In a political system like ours, blasphemy, politically incorrect speech, vulgarity, pornography, speech condoning illegal activities and even bigoted speech merit protection. By advocating for censorhip, the school board is teaching its students to fear those with opposing viewpoints rather than confront, examine and debate them point by point, and toshow disrespect towards those with opposing viewpoints rather than support that person's right to disagree.
The school board's plan is as unwise or counterproductive as it is constitutionally dubious. Students at that young age may reject its censorious attitude if they reject its authority to govern their lives and it does nothing to warn students of the health and legal risks associated with drug use. A school which grants its students the right to promote causes it finds deplorable or dangerous does not forgo the right to present its case for its favored message.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
The protestors yelled "Send them back" and "Lets get rid of the Mexicans" among other anti-immigration slogans. Later, some 30 or so hooded and non-hooded KKK supporters would head to another rally and burn a 22-foot high cross on a field in western Franklin County.
Alabama's residents who support tighter border control missed an important opportunity to distance themselves and the broader anti-amnesty movement from the KKK and its racist and otherwise bigoted vision for the United States. Most who support tighter border security do so for generally benign and prudentential reasons that have little if anything to do with their ethnic status of those entering our country. They do so because the government has the right and obligation to deny terrorists, criminals, and those with extremely contageous diseases access to the American public which it is bound to protect (most illegals obviously are not terrorists or drug dealers but that is besides the point since the ability to deny access for undesireables by its nature requires the ability to deny access to all immigrants) and because they believe, with some good reason, that future generations of American citizens will have to pay for the increased burdens such uncontrolled immigration will exact on our health care system. They oppose efforts to provide those illegal immigrants a path towards American citizenship because it (a) may encourage others to cross the border illegally and (b) will reward those who entered this country illegally.
Many who support cultural change do fear cultural change and the visceral reaction that many had to the Mexican and Honduran flags on display during the first pro-illegal immigration rallies did not go unnoticed but that has less to do with the immigrants' ethnicity and more to do with the protestors' perceived demands upon those already living in this country.
The president of the United States publicly stated that our national anthem should be sung in English and for good reason. We grew up in households that spoke English. Our first words were spoken in English. Our classrooms were taught in English and our business is conducted in English. People who are raised to speak English are entitled to fear a shift to languages that they were under no obligation or expectation to learn. Most public high school curriculums do require instruction in one of several foreign languages but the proficiency developed in the classroom cannot match that acquired when the student is forced to live in the country where that foreign language is spoken.
In some respects this fear is overblown. We cannot expect those who immigrate to speak our language fluently and the first generation immigrants raised by non-English speaking Americans will be confronted with the same difficulties natives do not have to face. The United States can, however, require new arrivals to get outside tudoring in English in their spare time and raise their children with the expectation that eventually they and their expected children will be educated in English-speaking classrooms. The challenges posed by foreign-speaking immigrants are surmountable. Russian, Polish, Hungarian, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Iranian, and Scandinavian immigrants came to this country with little or no understanding of our language but their descendants speak English well.
Those associated with the KKK do not limit their objections to these reasonable demands, however. They believe in and rally for a white-governed American society that bars racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities the opportunity they themselves take for granted and in doing so, the KKK provides aspiring immigrants and those within our countries with a distorted message. Most advocates for tougher border control do not hate Mexicans and have no objection to the immigration of those who enter this country legally be they white or not but they correctly do not view this as a civil rights issue.
The African Americans were forced to immigrate to this country (they were sold in Africa and the Caribbean and shipped to the United States). The Native Americans were already here before we forced them off their land. The feminists who fought for gender equality were fighting against institutional servitude (religious, familial, economic and cultural) women were born into while gays from state to state and continent to continent faced (and always will face as a group deprived of majority status).
Illegal immigrants now in our country may face resentment, anger, lower wages and harrassment but the hardships they endure are those of their own making. They had a choice to come into our country and a choice to do so in a manner that is frowned upon by many American citizens while others win our goodwill and compassion by seeking entry through lhe legal process.
Pro-border control advocates unfortunately let the KKK's message go unanswered and in doing so, have let the pro-illegal immigration forces tie us to the KKK which is now profitting from our message. When local KKK affiliates plan a rally against immigration, border control advocates should be standing on the sidelines holding billboards saying "Pro-legal immigration" and "You don't Speak for Us."
Saturday, May 06, 2006
1. 360 Special: A look at life on the border from the perspectives of both, law enforcement officials and the illegal immigrants who sneak across it. (CNN)
The Headline News Maker Interview Shows
1. Meet The Press: (a) House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks to Tim Russert about gas prices, immigration reform, the war in Iraq, and the 2006 Congressional mid-term elections. (b) Roundtable discussion with Dan Balz of The Washington Post and Todd Purdum of Vanity Fair. Discussion will revolve around President George W. Bush's new White House team, his second-term agenda, and a profile of Vice President Richard Cheney. (MSNBC)
2. Late Edition: A look at what the r CIA chief Peter Goss's resignation means for the agency and U.S. intelligence gathering. Guests include Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas). Representative Jane Harmon (D-California) of the House Select Intelligence Committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and Iraq's national security advisor Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie. (CNN)
3. Face The Nation: Senator and potential Republican presidential candidate John McCain (R-Airzona) is questioned on his views on the hot button issues of the day - the war on Iraq, our response to the Iranian nuclear standoff, gay marriage, abortion rights, Congressional inaction, high gas prices and immigration reform. (CBS)
4. This Week: (a) Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) on Peter Goss's resignation from the CIA and potential replacement candidate Air Force General MIchael Hayden. (b) Representative Tom Delay (R-Texas) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on high gas prices, the war on Iraq, and the Congressional mid-term elections. (c) Roundtable discussion of this week's politics includes Kristina vanden Heuvel of The Nation, Martha Radditz of ABC News, and syndicated columnistGeorge F. Will. (ABC)
5. Fox News Sunday: (a) Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan ) on Peter Goss' resignation from the CIA. (b) Immigration debate with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Jim Gilchrist of The Minuteman Project. (c) Interview with Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner. (Fox News)
Other Political News Shows
1. The Chris Matthews Show: (a) Republican control in Congress at risk. (b) Senator John McCain's upcoming visit at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. (c) obsession with "The Da Vinci Code." Guests include Jon Meacham of Newsweek, talk show host Laura Ingraham, and Andrew Sullivan of The New Republic and Time Magazine. (CNBC)
2. Heartland: (a) Interview with an Arizona sheriff who is forming a posse to cut down on illegal immigation. (b) Actress Bo Derek's campaign for wild animals, and (c) local homeland security. (Fox News)
3. Fox News Watch: (a) the media's coverage of "The Day Without Immigrants." (b) the media's coverage on the Congressional mid-term election horse race polls. (c) whether the media's use of the word "arrested" accurately depicts what happened to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. (Fox News)
4. Beltway Boys: (a) The Democrats confront their own members' ethical issues (probably in relation to Representative Kennedy's driving behavior this week). (b) divisions within the Republican Party over runaway spending, high gas prices and immigration reform. (c) Senator Joseph Biden's plan for a decentralized Iraqi federation under criticism. (Fox News)
Feature News Programs
1. CBS Sunday Morning: (a) Medical Misdiagnosis (again?), (b) this history of skirts, (c) Jerry Bowen's sneak preview of this summer's movies, (d) a teapot exhibit, (e) music artist Paul Simon on his latest CD. (CBS)
2. 60 Minutes: (a) Sally Mae Corporation may profit from making government-backed loans for college students but while those benefit go into debt. (b) ethanol as an alternative to gas for energy consumption, (c) Interview with golfer John Daly about his private life and the PGA tour. (CBS)
3. 48 Hours: the brutal murder of the 18-year-old Catherine Woods, an aspiring dancer who moved to New York to fulfill her dream of becoming a big hit on Broadway. Was there a dark underside to her murder or was this a simple case of a jealous lover acting out of rage? (CBS)
4. Dateline NBC: what to do when abuse is suspected: the case of a fourteen-year-old who was accused of murding his father, stepmother and stepsister. (NBC)
4. Dateline NBC Sunday: A report on Actor Tom Cruise. (NBC)
1. Saturday Night Live: Guest Host Tom Hanks (a star on the soon-to-be released "The Da Vinci Code") and musical guest Red Hot Chili Peppers. (NBC)
2. Law and Order Criminal Intent: Scion of powerful radio host is murdered. Detectives Goren and Eames suspect patron's Chinese born wife and believe there is a connection to a power struggle over the family trust but also suspected are two friends, the kinky professor/ex-husband and a businessman. (NBC)
3. Cold Case: A new witness shows up, giving the Cold Case squad a reason to re-open the case of the death of an ER physician. (CBS)
Friday, May 05, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Mr. Moussaoui pled guilty to the conspiracy charges made against him but at first said he was training to partake in a second wave of terrorist attacks and was not involved in the planning and execution of those attacks above forementioned attacks conducted on September 11, 2001 but to his own defense team's dismay, he changed his story and admitted to a level of planning and participation in the 9/11 attacks that Judge Brinkema, jury, and even the prosecution team arguing for his death did not find credible.
Had the admitted terrorist aspirant conducted identical acts in the Middle East, Far East, or Africa he would have been punished more severely for acts far less egregious, some of which are protected in this country. The Department of State's human rights report on Iran, for instance, notes that:
Trials are supposed to be open to the public; however, frequently they are held in closed sessions without access to a lawyer; the right to appeal often is not honored.
UN representatives, including the UNSR, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and independent human rights organizations noted the absence of procedural safeguards in criminal trials. The UNGA resolution on the country's human rights expressed serious concern at "the persistent failure to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice…."
Trials in the revolutionary courts were notorious for their disregard of international standards of fairness. Revolutionary court judges were chosen in part based on their ideological commitment to the system. Pretrial detention often was prolonged, and defendants lacked access to attorneys. Charges were often undefined such as "anti-revolutionary behavior," "moral corruption," and "siding with global arrogance." Defendants did not have the right to confront their accusers. Secret or summary trials of five minutes' duration occurred. Others were show trials intended to publicize a coerced confession.Before and during his sentencing hearing today, Mr. Moussaoui condemned the United States, dismissed as inconsequential the lives of those who died during the September 2001 terrorist attacks, and praised Osama bin Laden. "My liberation," he is quoted as saying in The New York Times article "will be proof." We are the soldiers of God and you are the army of Satan."
And again here: "I will see you before the end of G.W. Bush."
Words similarly deemed insulting to the Supreme Leader in Iran landed an internet writer in jail after he reported on the arrest of his fellow compatriots.
Mojtaba Saminejad, an Internet writer, was arrested on February 13 and sentenced to more than two years in prison on charges including insulting the supreme leader. He was first detained in October 2004 after reporting the arrest of other Internet writers and, according to HRW, tortured and held for 88 days in solitary confinement. On January 27, he was released on $62,500 (50 million toman) bail. He started another Internet site but was detained again, and his bail tripled, which he could not pay. His trial in May was held behind closed doors; he was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting Khomeini and the supreme leader and charged with apostasy. He was later acquitted of apostasy but remained in Rajai'i Shahr prison.
Still, another journalist was harrassed and arrested for covering a demonstration held in support of a political dissident.
On July 25, police arrested journalist Massoud Bastani for covering a demonstration to support political prisoner Akbar Ganji. Bastani was held in Evin Prison, released August 6, then reimprisoned and sent to Arak prison, normally used for nonpolitical prisoners. He was released for a month but returned to prison on November 5. In December the head of the Association of Iranian Journalists called for Bastani's release and said he was in poor health.
The admitted terrorist says he won. "America, you lost, you lost! Novak, I won." I sincerely doubt it since he was judged according to our standards. In Mr. Moussaoui's America (that is, one governed by the system once applied in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and the one now in place in theomonarchic Saudi Arabia and IslamoRepublican Iran, he would be in prison or sentenced to death for merely supporting a government or country whose values did not conform with the party in power.
Mr. Moussaoui will spend the rest of his natural born rotting life in Administrative Maximum United States Penitentiary, a federal maximum security prison located in Florence, Colorad. His showmanship has come to an end. There will be no death penalty appeals and thus no opportunity for him to force us into revisiting the witness coaching allegations that hurt the prosecution team's case for killing him. Fitting, it seems that the person who came here to kill and die was denied the opportunity to do both.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
"Decentralization is hardly as radical as it may seem: the Iraqi Constitution, in fact, already provides for a federal structure and a procedure for provinces to combine into regional governments.
Besides, things are already heading toward partition: increasingly, each community supports federalism, if only as a last resort. The Sunnis, who until recently believed they would retake power in Iraq, are beginning to recognize that they won't and don't want to live in a Shiite-controlled, highly centralized state with laws enforced by sectarian militias. The Shiites know they can dominate the government, but they can't defeat a Sunni insurrection. The Kurds will not give up their 15-year-old autonomy.
Some will say moving toward strong regionalism would ignite sectarian cleansing. But that's exactly what is going on already, in ever-bigger waves. Others will argue that it would lead to partition. But a breakup is already under way. As it was in Bosnia, a strong federal system is a viable means to prevent both perils in Iraq." - Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Leslie Gelb in the May 1, 2006 edition of The New York Times.Senator Joseph Biden and Leslie Gelb say Iraq's Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis should split Iraq into three autonomous regions which would be responsible for most administrative, domestic affairs (education, social welfare programs), and internal security (police) but leave to the central government in Baghdad administration over the country's oil revenues, border defense, and foreign policy.
Iraq's Kurdish population no doubt will settle for nothing less given their distinct cultural identity, past dealings with Saddam Hussein's central government, and the freedom they won after the United States came to their rescue. The draft constitution which Iraqis voted to pass back in November in fact guarantees them regional autonomy.
For different reasons, Iraq's Shi'ite and Sunni factions may oppose any further split in Iraq. The Sunnis live in the oil-poor regions of Iraq and fear they would be left to fend for themselves or seek aid from their Kurdish and Shi'ite neighbors. Iraq's Shi'ites would have no problem administering a country which they more than likely will win in every election given their majority status.
Iraq's three major ethno-religious factions nevertheless have not acquired the trust needed to submit to a government predominantly run by one of the other two. Iraq's Sunnis do not have the votes to govern in Iraq "proper" (Sunni + Shi'ite regions).
Federalism provides those who have very little trust in each other a means to unite behind their shared goals without sacrificing their cultural heritage and policial freedom but that window of opportunity is closing as each faction pushes members from rival factions out of land they wish to declare as their own. Iraq's Kurdish factions are fighting for control over Kirkuk and the oil fields surrounding it while Iraq's Sunni and Shi'ites move from their homelands into friendlier regions dominated by those of their own religious affiliation. Shi'ites themselves split between those who align with one of two militia groups. And then there are the smaller minority groups like the Turkomens. The federalist plan must to some extent provide for their freedom.
The American-led forces will have to move quickly if this plan is going to succeed. The forced removal of Shi'ite from Sunni-coveted land and vice versa may lead to the de facto separation Mr. Biden calls for but the means by which it is achieved may further polarize these factions, making compromise and cooperation in national security and oil revenue increasingly difficult.