Saturday, January 25, 2003

JUST A REMINDER...

It's been cited before in other blogs, but let's remind you of just what is at stake when a president of the United States makes war at whim:
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose — and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't.'

The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.

Of course this was Representative Abraham Lincoln to his law partner in Illinois, William Herndon on President James K. Polk beating the war drums to attack Mexico before Mexico attacked us -- in 1848.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

GLEN FRIENDT, ABSENTEE MAYOR?

We're sending one of the urchins from the barricades to rummage through the minutes of Lincoln City Council meetings because rumor has it that Glen Friendt has been absent from council meetings more than he's been present. Since we on the barricades like to have accurate facts before we go public with them, we'll get more concrete facts before we comment.

Much.

UPDATE

Our urchin is back and found that Glen Friendt did not miss "more council meetings than he'd attended. In fact, in CY 2002 he missed eight meetings (1/14, 3/4, 3/11, 5/6, 5/20, 6/10, 7/15, 9/9) out of thirty-some. He was the most frequently absent. Others who missed were Terry Werner (Terry, say it ain't so!) who missed four, Jonathan Cook who missed three, Annette McRoy who also missed three, and Jon Camp who missed one. Mayoral candidate Colleen Seng gets a gold star for perfect attendance as does Councilman Svoboda.

Okay, no further comment. Except this: being mayor is a full time job. I don't begrudge Glen Friendt his business: he's successful at it and has earned what he has. I'd like to hear him address what he will do with his business if & when he's elected.




ANOTHER MODEST PROPOSAL

Blogguru Mark Kleiman comments on the overcrowding in California prisons, the great cost of housing and feeding prisoners, and the quandary faced by corrections policymakers: most in prison are not really a threat to society, but a few in prison are a great threat. He does a very good analysis of the situation and proposes one solution (intensely monitored community supervision), but also exposes the biggest drawback: "Someone subject to that program would commit a rape-murder, and the political career of whoever developed the program would be all over."

Mark has missed the most obvious solution: If some prisoners are dangerous, but we don't know which ones are dangerous, let's execute them all. If cost is our only concern with prisoners, summary execution is the cheapest solution. And a return to the guillotine would be even more cost-effective: it uses neither electricity, gas that could harm the environment, nor dangerous drugs. Bury the former inmates in a potter's field and be done with them.

We can then leave the prisons for misdemeanors and political offenders.
THE FIRST SHOTS AT BUSINESS TAX KICKBACKS

Gads, I love Dave Landis.

I had some concerns when he wasn't saying much about rolling back LB775 (the infamous corporate tax credit/kickback scheme for businesses in Nebraska) after his elevation to the Revenue Committee. I was afraid he was going to stop at the idea of just making businesses reveal how much of a kickback they get under the bill, instead of making them give some of it back in these days of lean budgets.

I should have had more faith in Dave.
Dave Landis (Lincoln) has introduced LB 579, "which would generate an estimated $30 million a year, largely from companies that get corporate income tax credits under LB 775.

Under the bill, companies that have their corporate income tax liability erased under LB 775 and have tax deductions for depreciation of equipment in the same year would be subject to a surcharge.

Landis has also introduced a bill which would require disclosure of applications for tax credits and payments to businesses under the law. Gov. Johanns, of course, is submitting his own bill on disclosure which is much watered down but which has the support of the Chambers of Commerce and other shills for the corporations.

But other state senators have come up with other ideas that I like a lot. For example, Omaha Senator Kermit Brashear (an old-school Republican) has introduced a bill which would require a minimum wage for companies receiving LB 775 kickbacks. That works for me: if you tie this with a requirement for disclosure (show me that you are getting money) and a trigger for surcharges, maybe we can start making this whole kickback scheme more equitable. Maybe.

Of course it would be better just to dump the whole thing. But then, I'm a radical.


Wednesday, January 22, 2003

BARRICADES TO BE QUIETER BUT NOT LESS VIGILANT

Due to a number of upcoming trials in the next couple of weeks and a growing workload, the speeches from the Barricades will be somewhat reduced over the next few days. That doesn't mean we won't be watching and, when events require, letting volleys fly against evildoers. But we won't be able to post regular columns.

On the other hand, if any regular visitors have things they think need to be said, please feel free to send via the email link on the left and, if it fits the tenor of my regular contributions, I'll run them.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

ARMOR AGAINST THE SHARPEST BARBS

There's an old Chinese proverb which says, "Ignorance is a powerful armor against the sharpest barbs of insult."

Atrios and Mark Kleiman introduce us to a letter quoted by one Jonah Goldberg in commentary to the National Review's website, which Goldberg cites in support of removal of certain books from libraries. The letter was written by Mark Twain to a librarian who appealed for his help against a proposal to deny children access to Huckleberry Finn:
Nov. 21, '05.

Dear Sir, -- I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn for adults exclusively, & it always distresses me when I find that boys & girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean, sweet breath again this side of the grave.

Most honestly do I wish that I could say a softening word or two in defense of Huck's character since you wish it, but really, in my opinion, it is no better than those of Solomon, David, & the rest of the sacred brotherhood.

If there is an unexpurgated in the Children's Department, won't you please help that young woman remove Tom & Huck from that questionable companionship?

I can't add anything to that.
THE LONGEST JOURNEY BEGINS WITH. . .

I received the following e-mail from the Nebraska Democratic Party (it was a mass email) about the first steps towards reviving the Democrats in Nebraska:

Since November 5th, the Nebraska Democratic Party has undergone significant changes in it's [sic] approach to bring about a positive, progressive change to electoral politics. With this change comes the need for fresh, new, energetic Democrats to help the organization take back the state in 2004 and 2006.

During the next six months, the Nebraska Democratic Party Headquarters will be searching for volunteers to assist us with the daily operation of our political organization and will provide an unmatched experience for those wanting to help move Nebraska forward. We are currently building a "V-Team" that will assist the Nebraska Democratic Party with writing letters to editor, grassroots organizing, establishing a localized "media watch", localized fundraising, and disseminating the Democratic Party message of change.


Good beginnings. The state Democrats apparently have read "Westward Ho!", the American Prospect's story of how Democrats made inroads in supposedly rock-solid conservative Montana and other Western states. (I know this is true because they ran the entire article in "In The Loop," the e-mail newsletter put out by the NDP). More important is the evidence that the revival of the party will begin with ideas and groundwork, not with one or two charismatic people. There has been some speculation that with Don Wesley no longer running for mayor, the Nebraska Democrats' attempt to drag themselves back up will fizzle. If the renaissance is built on ideas and true grassroots organizing, it doesn't matter who runs for mayor, governor, or dogcatcher: the party will rise on people and their work, rather than one person.

Good job to Steve Achepohl, Heath Mellon, and the gang at state Democratic headquarters. I'm there!

Sunday, January 19, 2003

BACK TO BASICS

I started writing this blog out of frustration after watching the GOP rip the Democrats' lips off all across the country and, more importantly, watching the Democrats let them do it without resisting. Three months later I am seeing only minimal evidence that anything is changing.

Apparently I am not the only one. Daily Kos writer Steve Soto comments on a column by conservative (!) columnist Tucker Carlson's suggestions to the Democrats on how they can come back from extinction. No new ideas, really. But when even a conservative is making suggestions, maybe somebody ought to listen?