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On May 9, 2007, the White House issued National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51. This directive establishes "a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations" in case of a "catastrophic emergency." This kind of directive is not new. But the particulars of this directive are, and we, as citizens, should be very concerned.

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Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:26 AM PDT

The Betrayal of America

by The Issue Wonk

The recent firestorm in Congress threatens Americans and American values. The statutes being proposed signal a loss of a way of life -- the vision, the great experiment, known as America -- a representative democratic system governed by the rule of law and a document known as the Constitution. What's going on is not only appalling, it's frightening. And if citizens sit back and allow it to happen, we deserve everything we're going to get.
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How did we start a war against Iraq?  While all the pieces of the story have been out there, no one seems to have put them together in a concise manner.  Even the presidential election didn't bring it out.  You'd think John Kerry would have done this, but his campaign was so mismanaged that he got caught up in the drumbeat and wouldn't tell the whole story.  It's time to set the record straight.
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You youngsters may not remember the My Lai incident (pronounced Me Lie), where hundreds of innocent people -- primarily women, children, and old folks -- in the Vietnamese village of My Lai were slaughtered by U.S. G.I.s.  Troops coming back from 'Nam frequently told similar stories but were poo-pooed and/or branded as liars and traitors.
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Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 07:43 AM PDT

Condi's Diplomacy

by The Issue Wonk

I was stunned by Condi's statement, found in Timesonline:

"[W]e seek an end to the root cause of the violence so that an enduring peace can be established.  But if we look for a ceasefire that simply freezes the status quo ante, then we will be back here again in another six months, or nine months, or a year, looking for another ceasefire as Hezbollah uses southern Lebanon as a base to launch rockets against Israel."
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Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 07:16 AM PDT

Preemption vs. Prevention

by The Issue Wonk

Frank Rich, a wonderful columnist for The New York Times, had an interesting piece yesterday (July 16, 2006) entitled "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You 'Axis of Evil'."  (Subscription required.)  In it he discusses Bush's "doctrine of preemptive war."  I saw this and, once again, hit the roof.  If you're careful when you read, you'll notice this error frequently.  Everyone refers to the "doctrine of preemption" but it's really a "doctrine of prevention."  If there's anything to prevent.
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Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 08:22 AM PDT

Military Culture

by The Issue Wonk

What's going on with our military?  Reports of torture, senseless killing, and brutality are undermining our mission in Iraq and ruining our stature in the world.  Yes, such incidents have always occurred in wars.  Still, this is no excuse.  Have we learned nothing from our experiences?  For a country, a government, that often justifies its foreign policy on the grounds of preserving human rights, recent revelations prove that we are not who we purport to be and that human rights applies only to a lucky few.
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Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 11:48 AM PDT

Why an Estate Tax?

by The Issue Wonk

The federal estate tax (26 U.S.C. § 2001) is one of the oldest and most common forms of taxation.  An estate tax is a charge upon the decedent's entire estate, regardless of how it is disbursed."1  The estate tax is better described as a tax on inheritance, since the person with the estate doesn't pay the tax.  Only those who inherit it pay the tax.  The first estate tax was enacted in 1797 to raise money to create a navy.  It was terminated four years later.  In 1862 a direct tax on inheritance was imposed to pay for the Civil War.  It was abolished in 1870.  In 1898 the tax was brought back to pay for the Spanish-American War and was again repealed in 1902.  In 1916 it was resurrected to pay for World War I and has never been repealed, although rates have frequently changed.2  Looking at the reasons behind this tax affords a chance to reexamine society's values that gave rise to it.
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All the hoopla about a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage rests, once again, on the issue of so-called Judicial Activism.  The argument is that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, is in danger of being overturned by "activist judges."  The bill simply says that no state can be forced to recognize a gay marriage that occurred in another state.  As far as I've been able to find, no one has challenged this as yet.  The fear is, of course, that it will go to court and those pesky liberal, activist judges, who haven't even been elected, will rule that this is unconstitutional.  Thus, change the Constitution.
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