Friday, December 02, 2005

Bush's Faith-Based Plan - "Stay Put and Pray"

General George W "Custer" Bush FINALLY announced his plan for Iraq this week.

You can read about the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" here.

Basicly Bush's entire "plan" rests on the Iraqis stepping up like they have never done and embracing the new, American backed, Iraqi Government. Thats it in a nutshell, we simply stay put until the Iraqis come to our rescue.

The original plan was to take out the Bathhist regime and recover the "stockpiles" of WMDs in Iraq. The plan for Rebuilding was always regarded as an unimportant afterthought that could wait till later.

Well... that didn't pan out. So the American troops were left hanging with no real plan.

You cannot have a plan without goals and that is one thing Americans have been demanding Bush reveal, a goal for Iraq.

Well here it is... Bush's Goals for Iraq.

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.


The long term goal cracks me up the most. America cannot even claim to be:

peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community


So basicly the entire "plan" rests on the hope that all the Iraqis, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds will all fall in line behind the US Backed Government.

But the plan never once details how it intends to get all these diverse groups who have a long history of hating each other to work together.

In fact, it doesn't even mention the internal strife within Iraq once.

The closest it comes is when it says this:
Third, progress on the political front will improve the intelligence picture by helping distinguish those who can be won over to support the new Iraqi state from the terrorists and insurgents who must either be killed or captured, detained, and prosecuted.


They don't care whether you are Kurdish, Sunni or Shiite, the bottom line is support the new government or we will kill or jail you...

... how is that any different from Saddam's domestic policies?

Is it because Saddam used torture? No... we are doing that too.
Is it because Saddam killed his own people? No... that is what we have been and are threatening to continue doing. I guess it makes all the difference because the Iraqi citizens are not "our people".

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Chickenhawks... the new Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
I believe this year we are going to be serving Chickenhawk for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Is it just me, or is this entire dog and pony show by the Republicans (with Duncan Hunter's[CA-R] "Cut and Run" bill that they tried to pass off as Congressman Murtha's) was the most disgusting display of blind partisan hackery you have ever seen?

Congressman Murtha responded to the conterfiet Bill proposed by Republican Duncan Hunter by saying:
"Let me say, this resolution [the GOP's counterfeit bill] today is not what I envisioned, not what I introduced, and let me read what I introduced on November 17:

"Whereas Congress and the American people have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to `promote the emergence of a democratic government';

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U.S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U.S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft."

Now, let me say this. There were two of us who voted for a military draft, so I do not think that is an option. When you go to the high schools, they say, you are for a draft. I said, yes, but there is not too many of us, and I do not think you have to worry about it.

"Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces become the target of the insurgency;

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80 percent of the Iraqi people want the U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45 percent," (this is a British poll, but the Defense Department support this British poll or confirm this British poll), "of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified."

Hear what I am saying. Forty-five percent of the Iraqi people feel it is justified to attack Americans.

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action."

I did not say anything about intelligence. I did not say anything about the President. All these statements that have been made vilifying me today did not say anything like that.



To break it down for you this is what Murtha proposed:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

You can read the full text of Murtha's Bill here.

Here's what the Republicans put to a vote in place of Murtha's bill:

"Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

You can read the full text of the counterfiet bill here.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

New York Threats - Is Bush Wagging the Dog?

Let’s see, what have we had in the news lately?

Hurricane Katrina dominated the news in September, primarily the horrible job in responding to the disaster by the federal, state and local governments.
Bush's slow response and overly aggressive attempt to make up for it later, made him look even more callous and uncaring than normal.

The violence continues in Iraq. More Americans and Iraqis are dying every day.
Americans are less likely to dehumanize or shut out the raging conflict because for the first time in history we have television dramas about a conflict while it is raging. Normally they at least wait for a war to end before making a TV show about it, but Fox has already come out with Over There, which is actually an excellent show.

More and more Republicans are being investigated for criminal activities.
Former Speaker Tom Delay stepped down because he was indicted on numerous charges of unethical campaign finance activities.
Karl Rove is being investigated for his role in the ousting of a covert CIA agent.
Dick Cheney's assistant, "scooty" Libby is being investigated in the same case.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Most recently, 46 Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, last week joined with Democrats to pass a defense bill that included a provision restricting the use of torture by American troops — despite Bush's threat to veto the bill.

Needless to say, things have not been going well for Bush and ever since his nomination of his completely unqualified personal friend, even his normally staunch supporters in the Republican party have been critical of the President. Far right wingers such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter both came out against the President for nominating someone who is not radical enough!

You know what would have been perfect for this situation in 2002?

Raise the "threat level" to Orange or Red.

But that system grew old and people cannot stay scared of unspecific threats for long.

Therefore what would be REALLY perfect for Bush right now would be a specific Terrorist threat against a big target somewhere in the U.S.

Preferably someplace that has been hit before so the people are even more anxious.


And Voila!! Here it arrives, with PERFECT timing.

Things that make you go "Hmmmmmmmm...."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Get it Straight! The "War" is LONG Over!

This astounds me. This is something that most Americans have yet to grasp. The Authorization to use force was given to remove the Bathhist Regime. Period. That was completed in 2003, if you recall, Bush announced it on the deck of that aircraft carrier.

It does NOT extend to the "war on terror" PR war, which like the "war on drugs" is distinctly different from a real war.

We are in the Reconstruction phase of the campaign, like where we were with Germany and Japan in the 50s.

People need to stop acting as if we are at war with Iraq, because we are not. We are only there to try and help them construct a new government and survive the process.

That’s why we have so many National Guardsmen there, because civil reconstruction is something they specialize in.
The regular Army specializes in civil Deconstruction.

The progress against the insurgency over in Iraq by the Iraqi POLICE force has only confirmed what I have always said, that terrorism is a POLICE issue. It can be defeated only through investigation and infiltration, which are POLICE specialties.

"The guys who did this (9-11) cannot be taken out by the 103rd Armored Division. They have to be taken out by a busboy with a silencer." - Aaron Sorkin

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering 9-11

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - T. Jefferson

-In my opinion it is self sacrificing Patriots like Nathaniel Heatwole who pull the veil back from our eyes and show us the reality that we glimpsed on that beautiful but horrible September morning in 2001. They show us that the Emperor has no clothes and that we are not untouchable. We are not safe from the repercussions of our Imperialist actions in numerous parts of the world. People will not tolerate a Hegemony much better than they will an Empire.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Someone Explain Difference Between "Finding" and "Looting"





Someone explain this to me. How is it that a picture of a white person is "finding" food, but in a similar picture of a black person it says they "looted" the food?

Looks like Racism is alive and well in America in 2005.

Friday, July 29, 2005

HTPC for under $400

Turn your old PC into an HTPC for under $400

In his 1995 book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte predicted that the future of home entertainment was going to be a blending of the Television with the Personal Computer. That technology is now here and it is wildly popular.

Many people are familiar with Tivo, which is a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Tivo is currently the most popular implementation of this technology because of its user friendly interface and robust services. Tivo, however, is starting to get some real competition. The newest revolution in home computing is the Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC), also sometimes called a Media Center PC.

An HTPC is essentially Tivo’s bigger, more capable brother. An HTPC can do things that Tivo cannot, such as surf the web, burn DVDs and play games. Also many features that Tivo charges extra for, such a photos or music, you can do for free with a HTPC. As I write this, Tivo still has an advantage with their “Season pass” feature, but given time the numerous HTPC software developers will most certainly close that gap.

If you buy a new HTPC system off the shelf, it will likely cost somewhere in the range of $1500-$3000. A Tivo system can cost between $99 and $300 and they also charge a subscription fee of $12.95 per month or a $299 fee that covers the life of the product. You can get the service for less if you purchase it in conjunction with certain content providers such as Direct TV.

I would like to suggest an alternative that will cost you less than $400. If you are like me and many other people these days you may have upgraded your computer recently, leaving you with an “old” PC or at least most of a PC. Usually these PCs or PC parts sit around and do nothing but gather dust and take up room in your storage space.

Seems like a waste, doesn’t it? Have you considered turning that “old” PC into a HTPC?

I recently did just this; used old PC parts to make my own HTPC.

In my case, I had these parts lying around;

Pentium 4 Celeron 2.5ghz processor
ASUS Motherboard with onboard 5.1 digital sound and LAN
512 MB of RAM
Mid-tower case
ATI Rage 128 video card, with S-video out.

All I needed to buy was a TV capture card, a large Hard Drive, a wireless keyboard and mouse and a DVD burner, which is optional but highly recommended.
I did all my shopping on Price Watch (http://www.pricewatch.com/)

TV Capture Card: Hauppauge WinTV PVR 150 $99
DVD Burner: BenQ DW-1610 16X DVD+/-RW $40
Hard Drive: 160 GB $57
Mouse & Keyboard: Gyration Gyromouse combo $100
Sub-total: $296

Video Card: Radeon 9600 128MB w/ S-Video $88
Total: $384

I cannot recommend enough the Gyration keyboard and mouse combo. I strongly recommend them if you intend to do any web surfing on your HTPC but the mouse is especially great if you play games on it. They even make a version specifically for Media Center PCs which combine the Gyromouse with a television remote control.

For those who do not have an extra video card, I recommend getting an ATI All-In-Wonder instead of separate Video and TV Capture cards. The All-In-Wonder can be found for between $139-150 depending upon the model. Separately you are looking at spending $100 for each.

Once I installed all the parts into the case, I installed my standard copy of Windows XP. I know what you are thinking…“XP? Why not Media Center?”

There are a couple of reasons. First, because at the moment you cannot buy Windows Media Center (WMC) except with OEM hardware. Secondly, despite the hype surrounding WMC, it is not the only software available to HTPC users. In truth, Media Center is nothing more than an application that runs on top of Windows XP. There are other great commercial Personal Video Recorder (PVR) software packages available. Sage TV and Beyond TV are both highly popular alternatives.

However, I will let you in on a secret; the only software you really need comes with most TV Capture cards with PVR capability.

One advantage of Media Center is that it formats the screen for better viewing on Television screens, especially non-HD televisions. In order to make the text readable under XP, if you have a non-HD television, it is necessary to enable large fonts under video properties -> appearance.

The Hauppauge WinTV card that I purchased came with WinTV2000 and included TV Guide functionality through TitanTV.com. I launch the Titan TV Guide from a link on my Windows desktop. It allows me to schedule recordings from the Titan TV website with a simple right-click of the mouse.



Once a show has been recorded it is saved as an MPEG file on your computer’s hard drive. You can watch the video at any time by opening the file with a video player, such as Windows Media Player or Real player. These files can also be archived by transferring them to external storage devices.

Using the DVD Burner and the included software, Ulead DVD Movie Factory, I am able to burn shows that I have recorded onto universal DVDs to archive or to watch in another room on any standard DVD player.

An HTPC also has added bonuses for those of you who are fellow music downloaders and have large digital music libraries. Using the media player’s large hard drive capacity I was able to consolidate my entire mp3 collection, music, audio books and everything, all on the one server, where they can be played through my home theater speaker system, burned onto CDs or transferred to my portable mp3 player.

Have you ever been watching a movie and wondered if a certain actor is the same guy who starred in another movie? Well, with an HTPC you can simply pause the TV, bring up imdb.com in a web browser and find out right then and there. One of the biggest advantages of going with an HTPC instead of Tivo is that it allows you to make full use of the Internet with your Media Center. You can surf the web from your couch while still watching TV in another window. With some additional software you can also schedule recordings remotely from over the Internet.

One caveat about this particular setup is that it works best with standard cable. If you are using digital cable, you will have to schedule recordings in two spots. Once on the HTPC and again on the digital cable box because the HTPC will only record whatever channels the digital cable box is tuned to. There are TV Capture cards that support digital cable but you have to shell out a lot more money for them.

In summary, Home Theater PCs are the future of home entertainment and if you have an old PC that you are not using, you can put one together for a fraction of the cost of buying one new. It also has the additional bonus of clearing up some valuable storage space.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

New Pope Thinks Harry Potter Is Bad For Children

There is an article out today about how Pope Benedict wrote a letter a couple years ago criticizing J.K. Rowlings', Harry Potter books.

You can read about it here.

In his letter then Cardinal Ratzinger said that the stories, “erode Christianity in the soul” of young people.

His comments were made in a letter to the author of a book he read by a roman catholic sociologist, Gabriele Kuby. The book, entitled 'Harry Potter – Good or Evil', argues that the stories "blur the boundaries between good and evil"... as if those lines are not already blurred enough by the Roman Catholic Church.

In his letter the then cardinal thanked the author "for his informative book."
“It is good that you are throwing light on Harry Potter, because these are subtle seductions that work imperceptibly, and because of that deeply, and erode Christianity in the soul before it can even grow properly,” the letter added.

It seems obvious that Kuby's book is the Pope's only source of information about the Harry Potter series. It seems a very safe wager that he has never actually read them himself. If he had, he would have known that the characters in the series are Christians themselves and the celebrate Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter.

And the line between good and evil is very clear in the books, with Dumbledore and Harry representing good by displaying compassion and forgivenes (both qualities espoused by Jesus) and Voldemort and his death-eaters representing evil by displaying callous creulty and by committing random acts of torture and murder.

The Pope's condemnation is based on a position of ignorance. He and the author are making the knee jerk reaction that anything "magical" must be inherently evil.

This is an example of exactly the kind of intolerance that was the hallmark of the Catholic Church in it's prime. It is a prime example of why Catholicism has fallen in the last century to a church that isn't taken seriously by the majority of the world.

60% of Americans identify themselves as Catholic, but we have only ever had one Catholic President because the vast majority of Americans do not trust the Church.
We remember all too clearly the abuses of power by the Church when it was in it's prime and we remember all too clearly the damage that the unthinking, intolerant dogma caused when it was taken seriously.

Many American Catholics do not believe in the Church dogma, and many are flocking to other denominations specificly because of ignorant statements of condemnation like this one.

Pope Benedict said that he wanted to heal the rifts between the denominations when he first took the pointy hat and if he was serious about that then he needs to come out publicly and retract his statements or risk losing even more credibility.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

HOW TO FIX THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

This is how we can fix the electoral system and end the rule of the two party system in America -

Every qualified candidate gets X amount of money from the general fund with which to campaign. Donations are illegal.

Right now the two parties are dominating because of the way campaigns are financed.
Most donors consider a third party candidate to be a "bad bet".

Because of the vast disparity of money between the two "major party" candidates and the "third parties", the elections devolved into nothing but propaganda and rhetoric so the issues have been completely drown out.

If every candidate has the same, set amount of money with which to campaign you will level the playing field and see a LOT more focus being put on ideas and the issues and less on trying to smear each other. You will also break up the longstanding good ole boys club in Washington D.C.

If you level the playing field it forces the cantidates to campaign on ideas and you would break up the good ole boys club in American politics.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Well, there goes the Supreme Court...

America is soon going to learn the true meaning of "Judicial Activism".

With the retirement of Sandra Day O'Conner and the illness of Judge Rhenquist, we are soon going to have forced upon us some of the most extremist anti-abortion, anti-corporate liability, anti-worker's rights and pro-corporate special interest Judges we have seen... well, probably ever.

If you thought Scalia was a right winger, you haven't seen anything yet.

There has been a lot of attention focused on Abortion by both sides, because it is an emotional issue. However I have been saying for a long time that an overlooked key difference that is the Republican's historical track record of putting corporate interests above those of the individual citizens.

Remember, the last time we had a Supreme Court that was this far to the right; they gave corporations the same rights as individuals, such as privacy. Corporate America has proven time and again that there is not enough transparency in their dealings.

On Bush's Short list are people such as:

Janice Rogers Brown

Edith Jones

All of Bush's choices are people who have a habit of interjecting their own personal beliefs and opinions into their opinions and who have publicly stated their contempt for abortion rights, church-state separation and worker's rights.

What is at risk? A whole host of rights and protections that most Americans take for granted, from worker's Comp to the 40 hour workweek.

It is sad to say, but I fully expect that most Americans will not wake up in time from their 9-11 fear-driven fantasy that if they give up their liberty they will get more than just the appearance of security. In other words, they won't miss their liberty until after they lose it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Operation Yellow Elephant



This is a fantastic idea. It is an operation for shaming young Republicans into joining the Armed forces to serve in this war that they wanted so badly.

Operation Yellow Elephant

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Downing Street Memo - MemoGate

It appears that we finally have the long sought after documentary evidence to prove what the circumstantial evidence has pointed to all along.

What is the Downing Street Memo?
The Downing Street Memo "is actually a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002—a full eight months PRIOR to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003."

The contents of the memo that have everyone talking detail how the Bush Administration did not believe that Iraq was a greater threat to the nation than other countries, how they knew that the war was not legal and needed to create the justification to make it so and how they stated their intentions to "fix the intelligence" to that policy.

The Memo was originally printed in the Times of London on May 1st, 2005 but the American media only just picked up on it last week, more than a month after it became public and they are still not reporting on it widely.

In a positive note, about a half dozen US Representatives participated in John Conyer's hearing yesterday about the Downing Street Memo and what it means.

They held it in a tiny room in the basement of the Capitol, even though there were larger rooms available, the Majority leadership would not let him use it. Talk about obstructionist...

The panel of people who testified included Joe Wilson, former U.N. Weapons inspector, Ray McGovern, a longtime CIA Intelligence Analyst, John Bonifaz, an attorney and head of the National Voting Rights Institute and Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq.

John Bonifaz's testimony is what I found most interesting, because he explained what the Downing Memo is and what it means. He explained the legal framework for what this evidence means and how it is more than adequate justification for Congress to call for formal hearings into the matter.
Joe Wilson and Ray McGovern both provided examples and a timetable of exactly how the Bush Administration fixed intelligence and knowingly used incorrect intelligence such as the Niger Yellowcake Uranium claims to manufacture the false sense of threat about Iraq.

The Downing Street Memo represents nothing less than documentary evidence that George W. Bush and his Cabinet engaged in a conspiracy to decieve the American public into a unnecessary war. That is not only a high crime worthy of impeachment, if it is true it constitutes nothing less than Treason.

I found yesterday's hearing to be invigorating and refreshing. It was really nice to see U.S. Representatives actually doing something for a change. It gave me some hope that they might finally get themselves organized. However from what I saw yesterday they have a lot of work to do yet just to get themselves organized.

I remain hopeful.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What did Clinton do about Terrrorism?

President Clinton led the fight against terrorism over strong opposition from Republicans in Congress and the pro-Republican Media. Here's a partial - yet incredibly long - list of accomplishments against terrorism for which the Clinton Administration gets almost no credit or even recognition. President Clinton:

-- sent legislation to Congress to TIGHTEN AIRPORT SECURITY. (Remember, this is before 911) The legislation was defeated by the Republicans because of opposition from the airlines.

-- sent legislation to Congress to allow for BETTER TRACKING OF TERRORIST FUNDING. It was defeated by Republicans in the Senate because of opposition from banking interests.

-- sent legislation to Congress to add tagents to explosives, to allow for BETTER TRACKING OF EXPLOSIVES USED BY TERRORISTS. It was defeated by the Republicans because of opposition from the NRA.

When Republicans couldn't prevent executive action, President Clinton:

-- Developed the nation's first anti-terrorism policy, and appointed first national coordinator.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up 12 U.S. jetliners simultaneously.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up UN Headquarters.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up FBI Headquarters.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

--Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up Boston airport.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up Lincoln and Holland Tunnels in NY.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the George Washington Bridge.

-- Stopped cold the planned attack to blow up the US Embassy in Albania.

-- Tried to kill Osama bin Laden and disrupt Al Qaeda through preemptive strikes (efforts denounced by the G.O.P.).

-- Brought perpetrators of first World Trade Center bombing and CIA killings to justice.

-- Did not blame Bush I administration for first World Trade Center bombing even though it occurred 38 days after they had left office. Instead, worked hard, even obsessively -- and successfully -- to stop future terrorist attacks.

-- Named the Hart-Rudman commission to report on nature of terrorist threats and major steps to be taken to combat terrorism.

-- Tripled the budget of the FBI for counterterrorism and doubled overall funding for counterterrorism.

-- Detected and destroyed cells of Al Qaeda in over 20 countries

-- Created a national stockpile of drugs and vaccines including 40 million doses of smallpox vaccine.

-- Robert Oakley, Reagan Counterterrorism Czar says of Clinton's efforts "Overall, I give them very high marks" and "The only major criticism I have is the obsession with Osama"

-- Paul Bremer, Bush's Administrator of Iraq disagrees slightly with Robert Oakley saying he believed the Clinton Administration had "correctly focused on bin Laden. "

-- Barton Gellman of the Washington Post put it best, "By any measure available, Clinton left office having given greater priority to terrorism than any president before him" and was the "first administration to undertake a systematic anti-terrorist effort."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Rhenquist calls "Judicial Activist" label "preposterous"

Judicial Activism Only Damages Legal System

Add Chief Justice William Rehnquist to the growing list of those who fear that the all-too-frequent cries of "judicial activism" damage the U.S. court system.

In his annual report last week, the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice cautioned lawmakers against trampling on judicial independence -- not because judges need protection but "to promote the rule of law" necessary for an orderly society. Lawmakers should neither shorten federal judges' lifetime appointments nor threaten judges with impeachment simply because they believe court decisions do not always reflect popular sentiment. Calling judges "activists" simply because they don't hew to a particular group's will is unproductive and generally inaccurate. Judges are not supposed to bend to the vagaries of social movements but uphold the law and the Constitution.

Rehnquist, who believes in the strictest interpretation of that sacred document, is no bleeding heart. So his report should remind Congress that judges schooled in the Constitution and other aspects of the law are uniquely positioned to rule on their applications. Lifetime appointments are intended to insulate judges from the kinds of criticisms that have become rampant of late explicitly so they are not tempted, for the sake of preserving their posts, to rule the way the public wills instead of as the law dictates.

"It is not a perfect system," the chief wrote. "Vacancies do not occur on regular schedules, and judges do not always decide cases the way their appointers might have anticipated. But for over 200 years it has served our democracy well and ensured a commitment to the rule of law."

Yet this year, Congress has passed laws that ban judicial review of their constitutionality; Republican House leader Tom DeLay has threatened to impeach judges whose decisions he detests; and the "judicial activism" label has been thrown around wildly by cultural conservatives, including President George W. Bush.

These preposterous attacks hurt a justice system that requires public confidence to work.