"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Chief Justice Faces Abortion Issue

Ruling in Case Involving Parental Notification Could Be Far-Reaching

The first major abortion case since Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court last month comes before the justices next week, and even though it could be anticlimactic in the end, both sides in the debate view it as a warm-up for even more consequential cases ahead.

The case is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood , No. 04-1144. If the court divides 5 to 4 with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the majority but cannot produce a decision before O'Connor is replaced, then the court will have to redo the case in its next term.

But if not, "it could be a vehicle to revolutionize abortion law if they want to use it," said David J. Garrow, a Supreme Court historian and specialist on abortion law at Britain's Cambridge University.

The case stems from a 2003 New Hampshire law requiring teenagers to tell a parent before getting an abortion. While the law has an exception for girls who would die without the procedure, New Hampshire lawmakers omitted an exception for other non-life-threatening health problems because they felt it would render the law meaningless.

The new law has never been enforced, because two federal courts have said the lack of a health exception made it unconstitutional.

The Bush administration supports the New Hampshire law, telling the court in a friend-of-the-court brief that the case "may have direct relevance" to its defense of the federal law banning the late-term procedure that its opponents refer to as "partial-birth abortion" -- a law that has been struck down by lower federal courts in rulings that the administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn.

For their part, a coalition of pro-women's-rights organizations, including the National Organization for Women, the Communications Workers of America and the Ms. Foundation, has filed a brief in which it suggests that a ruling in favor of the New Hampshire law could "cast women's constitutional right to choose and the interests it serves into a continuous state of insecurity." The brief is one of 34 friend-of-the-court briefs in the case representing the views of clergy, interest groups and politicians on both sides.

At the heart of the matter is a relatively arcane issue having to do not with whether the law is unconstitutional but with how the court goes about deciding it is unconstitutional.

In 1987, in a non-abortion case, the court ruled that a law could only be struck down "on its face" -- that is, before it goes into effect -- if there is no possible constitutional way to enforce it.

But in a landmark 1992 abortion ruling, Planned Parenthood v. Casey , the court seemed to apply a different standard to state abortion regulations, noting that such rules would run afoul of the Constitution if they posed an "undue burden" to women in "a large fraction of cases."

If the court were to apply the more restrictive 1987 standard to abortion laws such as New Hampshire's, or, eventually, to the federal late-term abortion ban, it would become much harder for abortion-rights advocates to defeat regulations in court. "The substantive potential of it is huge," Garrow said.

Parental involvement laws regarding abortion are politically popular. All but six states have some form of statute that says girls under 18 must involve at least one parent or guardian in the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

As required by a 1990 Supreme Court decision, those laws generally include a "judicial bypass": Teens may avoid telling a parent if they can convince a judge that they would face abuse or that they are mature enough to make the decision on their own.

New Hampshire's version would make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a minor unless the doctor has written proof that at least one parent has been notified or unless the doctor certifies the girl would die without the procedure.

But unlike the parental involvement laws in most states, the New Hampshire statute does not explicitly let a doctor proceed when, in the doctor's judgment, the girl might be about to suffer serious health consequences short of death.

Opponents of the law say that is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has said in past cases that state regulations without health exceptions put an "undue burden" on the right to abortion. It is unrealistic, they say, to expect teens facing such pregnancy-related conditions as severe uterine bleeding or sudden spikes in blood pressure to wait for a parent or a court to let them have an abortion.

In the words of a brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the law's opponents: "The central issue in this case is simple but profound: Can the state omit a medical emergency exception from an otherwise permissible abortion regulation, even when it is undisputed that compliance with the regulation in emergencies will result in serious medical harm?"

New Hampshire counters that such rare crises could be dealt with through the law's existing exceptions. Under the 1987 Supreme Court case, the state argues, the risks of a severe health emergency are too small to warrant invalidating the whole statute.

A brief submitted by New Hampshire legislators who back the law notes that, out of tens of thousands of abortions done on teens in six other states for which records exist going back to 1991, only 11 were "emergency health abortions."

The law's opponents do not dispute that the number of people at risk may be small, but they argue that the risk even to some people, combined with the legal uncertainty the law imposes on doctors, makes the law unconstitutional.

Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 26, 2005; Page A02


Why Didn't They Listen To Hans Blix and Mohammad El-Baradei ?

R7fel NOTE:
I certainly was not fooled...not for one second was I fooled. Why were they? Blix practically called Powell a liar to his face and said that the photos he was showing were not credible. Wasn't anyone listening...or didn't they trust the judgement of the two inspectors, plus, Scott Ritter...who all said there were no WMD's after years of inspection. Why do we have these inspections if you're not going to trust in their findings. I knew Bush and his gang were lying and were just making a case to invade Iraq...no matter what. I can't believe one hundred Senators believed the crock the White House was putting out. Tell me instead that you were afraid to seem lax on security or some other stuff, but, don't tell me you bought the White House cock and bull put-out...don't tell me that...'cause I don't believe you...no, not for one second will I believe that!

More Than a 'Mistake' on Iraq

A line is forming outside the Iraq confessional. It consists of Democratic presidential aspirants -- where's Hillary? -- who voted for the war in Iraq and now concede that they made a "mistake." Former senator John Edwards did that Nov. 13 in a Post op-ed article, and Sen. Joseph Biden uttered the "M" word Sunday on "Meet the Press." "It was a mistake," said Biden. "It was a mistake," wrote Edwards. Yes and yes, says Cohen. But it is also a mistake to call it a mistake.

Both senators have a point, of course. They were told by the president and members of his War Cabinet -- Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld -- that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. In particular, those three emphasized Iraq's purported nuclear weapons program. As late as August 2003, Condoleezza Rice was saying that she was "certain to this day that this regime was a threat, that it was pursuing a nuclear weapon, that it had biological and chemical weapons, that it had used them." To be charitable, she didn't know what she was talking about.

As it turned out, neither did Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Cheney said, "Increasingly, we believe that the United States will become the target" of an Iraqi nuclear weapon, and Rumsfeld raised a truly horrible specter: "Imagine a Sept. 11th with weapons of mass destruction" that would kill "tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children." Imagine a defense secretary who thought he was propaganda minister.

I quote this trio of braying exaggerators -- all of them still in the administration -- because they emphasized the purported nuclear weapons threat. Yet by the time the war began, March 20, 2003, it was quite clear that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program. All the evidence for one -- the aluminum tubes, the uranium from Africa -- had been challenged. What's more, U.N. inspectors in Iraq had found nothing. "We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq," said Mohamed ElBaradei of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. That was on Feb. 14. The next month, the United States went to war anyway.

In their respective confessions, neither Edwards nor Biden explains why they were not persuaded by the evidence that Bush & Co. were exaggerating -- concocting is possibly a better word -- Saddam Hussein's nuclear threat. Of course, that still leaves chemical and biological weapons. But chemical arms have been around since 1915 and World War I. Biological weapons are a different story, but they are hard to deliver and not all that effective. Whatever the case, before Sept. 11, Americans hardly feared Hussein's chemical or biological weapons.

Sept. 11 changed all that. The terrorist attacks, coupled with the still-unexplained deaths of five people from anthrax sent through the mail, unhinged America. Cooler heads in the Bush administration seized the moment to plump for a war they had always wanted while many of the rest of us -- myself included -- got caught up in an emotional frenzy. Even after the passions of the moment cooled -- even after it was clear Iraq was no real imminent threat -- few of us demanded that Bush back down. The best I could do was whisper some doubt. On July 25, 2002, I wrote that the Bush administration would pay dearly if it was going to wage war for specious reasons. "War plans are being drawn up in the Pentagon," I wrote. "But explanations are lacking at the White House."

Well, those explanations are still lacking. But so, too, are those from Democrats who say they made a "mistake" in supporting the war. What sort of mistake? It's not a mistake to be misled. But it is a mistake, if that's even the right word, to lack the courage of your convictions, to get swept up in the zeitgeist and dig in your heels even harder -- not as a consequence of hardening conviction but of accumulating doubt. This is a mistake of great consequence, a failure of judgment or political courage, and it needs to be explained.

I do not hold the new war critics to a higher standard than those who led us to war or who still think it was a dandy idea. But we will learn nothing from this debacle if the word "mistake" can be used like a blackboard eraser just to wipe the slate clean. This is no different from what Bush is trying to do: The intelligence was bad, not his wretched judgment. To accept this explanation does not -- both for the president and his critics -- undo the mistake. On the contrary, it compounds it.

Richard Cohen


Caped Crusaders in a Comic Book War

Deep inside a bunker in an undisclosed location just outside Washington, DC, the dynamic duo of Bush Wayne and his trusted confidant, Dick (Grayson) Cheney, hunker down, plan and execute their endless struggle to rid the world of freedom-hating terrorists, insurgents and unpatriotic, immoral liberals.

Obsessed with defeating the evildoers who threaten America, these Halliburton-executives-by-day, freedom-fighters-by-night transform into Batman, the Caped Crusader, and his "trusted" companion ? Robin, the "Grim Wonder."

Together they wage a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

?Holy WMD, Batman, we must defeat the diabolical evildoers who possess weapons of mass destruction and threaten our children!?

?Yes, Robin; we must save the world from evil and spread democracy to those not quite fortunate enough to have our fair complexions.?

?There is an ?axis of evil? in the world, Robin, with terrorists who can turn ?smoking guns into mushroom clouds?.?

?Holy nuclear weapons, Batman!?

?That's ?nuk-ya-lar,? Robin; proper pronunciation is essential.?

?I apologize, Batman. Holy ?nukyalar? weapons!?

?Robin, do you remember Saddam, the ?Joker? in our deck of cards, and his cadre of diabolical villains: ?Chemical Ali,' ?Dr. Germ,? and the comical ?Baghdad Bob???

?Of course, Batman ? the diabolical fiends!?

?Did you know that those dastardly evildoers possessed nukyalar, biological and chemical weapons? And did you know the Joker gassed his own people with lethal chemicals that we had supplied to him for ?humanitarian purposes???

?We supplied him the lethal chemicals, Batman? What an ingrate!?

?Then the Joker invaded his neighbor after we tricked him that we would not intervene in his border dispute with Kuwait.?

?The Joke was on the Joker, Batman. Your daddy - Bush Wayne Sr. - tricked the dope into invading Kuwait, then really socked it to him after he took the bait.?

?Bang! Pow! Bombs away!?

?Hilarious, Batman; simply hilarious. He who laughs last, laughs best. Take that, Uday and Qusay!?

?Precisely, Robin. Remember, ?few men die of threats?. But let's not be too harsh, my friend; remember we are a very forgiving, Christian nation.?

?I apologize, Batman. You are truly a divinely inspired crusader.?

?Yes, Robin. Many are called to serve, but only I was chosen to lead. And I too have been chosen to bring Osama, the Riddler, and his army of ?ghosts? to justice ?either dead or alive. Like the Joker, the Riddler was our loyal freedom fighter in the 1980s, when he fought with us to defeat the ?evil empire?. Immediately after the Cold War ended, he ?warmed? up to Satan and, like the Joker, went over to the dark side at the exact same time the evil empire collapsed.?

?Holy ? I mean, unholy alliances, Batman!?

?Now the Riddler, prince of darkness, villain of villainy, produces mysterious videos from his
Rat-cave, carefully crafted with intriguing riddles that only his army of ghosts can decipher. So clever is the Riddler that our intelligence sources are totally stumped by this diabolical ?genius.? Gosh, if I could just figure out in what Rat-cave the Riddler is hiding, it would surely end the war on terror and we could go back to just being full-time oil executives once again.?

?Look, Batman, Blockbuster has just released another of the Riddler's videos, titled:

?Security is in Your Own Hands?!?

?Quick, get Mayor Giuliani of Gotham City on the Batphone, and have him raise the terror alert to flashing red!?

?Flashing red! Yikes! Wow! Ouch!?

?Yes, Dick ? I mean, Robin; these are dangerous times, which require strong leadership. When the average citizen on the street is in peril, something must be done, and quickly. It's hard work, really hard, but God's work is always hard, and we have taken an oath to protect and defend the American people from the Riddler, his network of evildoers and those who threaten our freedom and democracy.?

?Holy Jihad, Batman! God is great!?

?Quite an appropriate choice of words, my companion crusader.?

?Gosh, Batman, you speak so simply and eloquently, and you are always right. Isn't there anything you don't know??

?Yes, of course, Robin: I don't know how to make mistakes. You see, my apostle, I get my wisdom from the Holy Father, who, like thee? I mean, thou, is infallible. That's precisely how he got to be God, and that?s how I got to be the Caped Crusader? Haven't you noticed, Robin, that we never lose, and always escape the vicious ensnarement of enemies such as the Flip Flopper, his Ketchup Widow and their evil sidekick, the fat man: Mr. Freeze, Fahrenheit -32??

?Is it because we're smarter than they are, Batman??

?Of course we?re smarter, Robin, but mostly it?s because our hearts are pure. Oh, by the way, Robin ? did I mention that those tights you?re wearing are very sexy??

?Thanks, Batman, and I find that new mask and cape of yours really quite appealing.?

?But we mustn't waste precious time complimenting each other, Robin; we must leave the Batcave and fight evil out there, so we don't have to fight it in here. Hurry, Robin, fire up the Batmobile.?

?Splendid idea. Yikes, Batman, the Batmobile is low on gas! Where should we fill up??

?Easy, Robin; let's head to Iran.?

Vroom! Creech! Woosh!

?Don't forget, this time turn sharply to the right; don?t make a soft left!?

?I won't, Batman. I learned that when we got our international driver's licenses.?

?After we fill up in Iran, we can also remove their nukyalar weapons, liberate the Iranians from the axis of evil and bring freedom and democracy to them as well.?

?Gee, Batman, Iran's a big country. It may be a lot tougher than defeating Saddam the Joker. I'd better beam up a Bat-signal and see if Superman can join our coalition of the willing.?

?That won't be necessary, Robin, didn't you hear, Superman has retired; he left the planet Earth and returned to Krypton.

You see Robin, unlike us, Superman grew tired of fighting never-ending wars of good versus evil in this comic book world.

?So he left us, my friend, for the real world.?

When we last left them, our heroes, Bush Wayne and his trusted companion, Dick Grayson-Cheney, were heading east to Iran to hunt for weapons of mass destruction, free the Iranian people from the axis of evil and bring American-style democracy to all the good people of the Middle East.

But tired and weary from fighting their divinely inspired wars for truth, justice, freedom and the American way, the boys took a detour and headed back to their ranch in Crawford, Texas, for a well-deserved break from their international crime-fighting spree.

Now fresh and well-rested after their year-long vacation, our valiant crusaders?oil executives by day, freedom fighters by night?return to the world stage once again as:

Batman and Robin: The Caped Crusaders in a Comic Book War

... Last seen driving north to an undisclosed location in Washington, DC, our caped crusaders stopped along the Interstate to fill up the Batmobile.

?Good grief, Batman, did you get a look at the price of gas??

?Yes, Robin, my trusted CEO, but higher oil prices are a necessary evil in fighting wars on evil.?

?Holy Halliburton, Batman, greed is good!?

?No, Robin, greed works. Remember oil executives are a generous lot who reinvest the profits we earn to defeat those evildoers who despise the freedoms we enjoy.?

?Like the freedoms we enjoy to earn enormous profits and get tax breaks as well, Batman??

?Precisely, Robin. We invest the windfall, which stimulates the economy, which creates more jobs and helps us build better, more sophisticated weapons that ?shock and awe? fiendish villains like Saddam the Joker and his coterie of evildoers, Dr Germ, Chemical Ali and the Comical Baghdad Bob?those dastardly, diabolical rogues in our deck of 52 cards.?

?Holy one-eyed Jack, Batman, you dealt the Joker a ?Royal Flush? and swoosh! flushed him right down the toilet!?

?I'll say, Robin, a Joker's Poker you might add, but let's not be too harsh, my friend; remember our Judeo-Christian values.?

?You?re right, Batman, we are good Christians... but holy Christ, $75 to fill up the Batmobile... can we write this off??

?No, Robin. You see, all good Americans must share in the sacrifices necessary to succeed in this war on terror. Attendant, may I also have a ?Freedom Isn't Free? magnet for the bumper of my new Batmobile? The red, white and blue one is preferred, thank you. Hmm? Made in China? Oh, well. But thank you, sir, and please remember to tell all the good Americans to show off their sacrifices to other drivers, by proudly displaying these magnets on their SUVs as well. Keep the change??

Vroom, screech, whoosh...

?Jeepers, Batman! Sorry, but I almost forgot to tell you: while we were on vacation, the wicked witch of the south, the evil diabolical daughter of the Kat Women, that princess of darkness, the fiendish?Kategory 5?Katrina, the Kat Girl, returned with fury and gave the ?Big Easy? quite a rough time. That femme fatale spared no one; she soaked the rich and drowned the poor, a real equal opportunity villainess.?

?No need to apologize, Robin; remember, as I always say, better late than never. Let's get ?Brownie? on the Bat phone and offer our assistance.?

Ring, Ring...

?Hello, this is Michael Brown. I am relaxing at the moment; please leave a brief message after the tone.?


?Brownie, Batman and Robin here. Just got the news that New Orleans is underwater. Not to worry, though; help is on the way. The Bat Sub should arrive in about a week with some scuba gear and snorkeling masks. You?re doing a heck of a job, Brownie. Stay dry!?

Batman, you?re truly a ?bleeding heart? conservative, helping all those poor people down south, without? shall we say?a ?fair complexion?.?

?Yes, but as you know, Robin, I can relate to all the people of color. Ever notice that when I don my mask, I?m black??

?Right on, Batman.?

?And did you realize our popularity with African Americans has just doubled? From 1% to 2%!?

?A landslide! I love the new fuzzy math, Batman.?

?Precisely. I learned it at Florida State, class of 2000.?

?Holy hanging chads.?

?Holy Masquerade, my friend. But we mustn't waste any more time here in the US on domestic issues, Robin; there is work to be done abroad. We must head to the Middle East and fight the evildoers over there so we don't have to fight them over here. Hurry!?

Whiz, roar, vroom, lift-off

?Should we return to the Middle East disguised as just plain American oil executives Bush Wayne and Dick Grayson-Cheney, so we could blend in more easily, Batman??

?No, Dick?I mean, Robin; our mission is not about oil this time, it's about disarming the villains who want to turn smoking guns into mushroom clouds. You see, Robin, the people there are brainwashed by these villains, then reprogrammed and taught to hate America because we?re good and they?re not. We need to liberate these unfortunate people from the negative influences of dastardly villains like Osama the Riddler.?

?But the Riddler hasn?t been seen since the 2004 election, when his video helped us defeat the Flip Flopper, his Ketchup Widow and their video producer, the Fat Man Mr. Freeze Fahrenheit -32.?

?Yes, Robin. Just in the nick of time, the Riddler?s last video, on election eve, doomed the Flip Flopper and his running mate, the Breck Girl.?

?I guess there?s good in all people, even Osama the Riddler?right, Batman??

?No, Robin, not quite. The Riddler crafts his riddles in mysterious ways. Helping us defeat the Flip Flopper and get us elected helps him to recruit more fiends who hate our freedoms, like??

?No! You don't mean the mythical, magical, manipulator of mayhem?The Invisible Man, aBoo Zarqawi, do you??

?Yes, Robin, I?m afraid so. That dastardly, diabolical, elusive, foreign-born phantom villain who escapes more often than Harry Houdini, has more lives than a cat, and has been wounded more times than Flip Flopper, has returned once again as the diabolical mastermind behind the evil Iraqi insurgency.

?While Osama the Riddler produces videos and Saddam the Joker writes romance novels, The Invisible Man, Zarqawi, has become an Internet wizard?and part-time spammer?who communicates to his army of insurgents without electricity, phone lines or even a cable modem.

?His wizardry is so technologically sophisticated that his network cannot be traced or detected, even by our vast resources.

?Now if we could only locate his Internet Service Provider or his website...

?I got it! Robin, quick, boot up the Bat Computer! Go to Google and type in ?The Invisible Man Zarqawi?... Click on ?I'm Feeling Lucky?.?

?Got it, Batman! His website is called jihadists-R-us.com.?

?Great, Robin! Now go there and click ?About Us?.?

?Bingo! We got him! It says ?Insurgents needed, send resume (in confidence) to: Spider Hole 2, Fallujah, Iraq. Allah Akbar!??

?Let's head to the ?Liberated and Pacified? Fallujah, Robin, and bring The Invisible Man to justice.?

?Should we then ?detain? him at Abu Ghraib, Batman??

?No, that would be too harsh, my friend. Remember, we are compassionate conservatives. He?ll be more comfortable in a spider hole in the tropical confines of Guantanamo Bay.?

?You are truly a man of conscience, Batman.?

?Yes, Robin. There we can play tricks and harmless pranks on all these villains to gain the necessary information needed to thwart their evil intentions in our divinely inspired war on terror. This is the new American Way, and the righteous thing to do. Then, as a reward for their cooperation, we?ll send them off with a one-way first class ticket to paradise, where they can meet their seventy-two virgins.?

?Holy Geneva Conventions, Batman, does it work??

?Of course it works, Robin, and when we eventfully capture Osama the Riddler and send him off to Paradise as well, the War on Terror will be won and our Mission Accomplished.?

?But won't other evildoers follow, Batman??

?No, Robin. American democracy will transform the region and our Muslim brothers and sisters will shower us and our Israeli friends with candy and flowers... then we all can live happily ever after in this comic book world.

?And as for our brave soldiers fighting in this War on Terror?somewhere over the rainbow?they too can then return home, simply by tapping the heels of their combat boots together three times and saying: ?There's no place like home, there?s no place like home? ??

Jerry Ghinelli writes essays exclusively for Information Clearing House ( www.informationclearinghouse.info ) and contributes his time and efforts as a private citizen, with the hope of encouraging readers to think more broadly about the important issues that threaten the peace and security of the world community. He welcomes all civil feedback, whether positive or negative, which should be sent to email@jerryghinelli.com or visit http://www.jerryghinelli.com for more information.