About Me

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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Talented Brother

Rooster Rock

Permit me to brag on my talented brother, Rick who, in my humble opinion, is a terrific cartoonist with a sly wit to boot. I've established a link on this blog to his blog "Organized Doodles."

Scalia on War Powers

deja vu?

The White House has been claiming that the president has absolute command over the Armed Forces and can disregard the will of Congress. They might be surprised to learn that case law may not be on their side:

"[E]xcept for the actual command of military forces, all authorization for their maintenance and all explicit authorization for their use is placed in the control of Congress under Article I, rather than the President under Article II." Anthony Scalia in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld 542 U.S. 507 (2004).

Am I the only one who thinks that the actions of a "decider" seem to be very close to those of a "dictator"?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Man Who Knows His Clientele

The White House has just hired a new Executive Pastry Chef. He is Bill Yosses the author of:

Stop the Surge!

Hard Times A'Comin'!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Senator Inhofe and Coburn Vote Against Workers

Inhofe and Coburn: Fat Cats For Fat Cats
Our two Oklahoma senators voted to keep minimum wage workers below the poverty level. The House voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, up from the $5.15 an hour where it has been for the past 9+ years. The Senate voted down a "cloture" motion which would have cut off Senate debate and allowed an up or down vote on the measure known as HR2. While a majority of the Senate voted for the motion (54-43 with 3 not voting), the motion fell short of the 60 vote "super majority" it needs to cut off debate. So much for the Repubs claim that Democratic senators were to be faulted for not allowing up and down votes for their pet project when the Repubs had the majority.

Working people need to be reminded that Senator Inhofe sees them as little more than a business commodity. (George Will in an op-ed piece claimed that working Americans are no more than commodities.) Not only will raising the minimum wage allow millions of Americans to escape poverty, we must recognize that this act is a simple matter of justice. It is patently unjust for Americans to work full time and yet find themselve falling deeper and deeper into the poverty trap.

Senator Inhofe and Coburn, you bring shame to our state.

Repeal the "Military Commissions Act"

Khaled el-Masri
Kaled el-Masri is a German citizen. On December 31, 2003 he was on vacation in Macedonia. When the bus he was traveling on reached the Serbia-Macedonia border, he was detained by Macedonia authorities and turned over to the CIA. They suspected him of being linked with terrorist organizations. Mr. el-Masri was held for 23 days before being beaten, drugged and flown on a plane leased by our government to Afghanistan where he was detained in the notorious "Salt Pit" prison.

The trouble is that by this time, the CIA knew that he was innocent. He was a victim of mistaken identity. Five months after being kidnapped, Mr. el-Masri led out of his cell, blindfolded, handcuffed, chained to the seat of a plane, flown to Albania and--without explanation--abandoned on a hillside at night.

President Bush first denied that the US engaged in rendition, kidnapping another term. He denied we used torture. When cases like Mr. el-Masri's came to light, his lie was exposed. He then successfully got the Republican Congress to pass the Military Commisions act to give him the right to continue the practice of denying basic human rights to anyone he believes to be guilty of terrorism. The law allows among other things to:
1. deny prisoners the right to habeas corpus so that a prisoner can be locked away without charge or without the right to an attorney.
2. use force to gain evidence against prisoners and convict them on the basis of statements made under coercion.
3. keep prisoners locked up indefinitely.

The claim is always made that 9-11 gives us the right to use means above the Constitution to defend ourselves, that we are dealing with very dangerous people. But as Sen. John McCain said in his debate against the use of torture, this is not about who they are, it's about who we are. If we resort to kidnapping, torture, forced confessions, indefinite imprisonment, denial to laws of law, then what have we become? How can we say that we have the moral right to defend freedom around the world, when we can't exercise it at home?

Congress must repeal the Military Commissions Act. Our national soul is at stake here. For how can we ask the brave men and women of our military to sacrifice themselves if America has become little better than the tyrannies we oppose. To paraphrase a famous statement of Abraham Lincoln I assert that as a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except those we declare to be enemy combatants." When if this is allowed to continued, we will say "all men are created equal, except Muslims and others we dislike." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty so that my tyranny can be take pure, and without hypocritical lip-service to the ideal of liberty and justice for all.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Separated at birth?????
Mr. Potter Mr. Dick

Me and a Bust of Will Rogers from our trip to see the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, OK

Oklahoma in January

John Marshall High School, Oklahoma City

This was a very long week at school. Everyone felt that way. The main reason is that we came back after having lost a week to a big ice storm that started on Friday, ended on Sunday, and stayed around till the following Saturday. Basically, we were starting the 2nd semester over again. We had only been in school a week and two days before the ice storm hit. So it's like everything we began was lost on the students. We will have to make it all up at the end of the semester so we'll be in school through the first week of June.

We also lost our school principal who was demoted to an assistant principal. We haven't gotten a replacement for him. Things are rather chaotic in the building. This has been the roughest year I have had as a high school teacher save for the first year I taught. These kids have so little going for them that it's a crime for them to have to go through all they have had to go through this year.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gonzales says the Constitution doesn't guarantee habeas corpus

More evidence that this is the most dangerous presidencies since the Nixon White House

by Bob Egelko

January 24, 2007

One of the Bush administration's most far-reaching assertions of government power was revealed quietly last week when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified that habeas corpus -- the right to go to federal court and challenge one's imprisonment -- is not protected by the Constitution. "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas,'' Gonzales told Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Jan. 17.

Gonzales acknowledged that the Constitution declares "habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless ... in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.'' But he insisted that "there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.''

Specter was incredulous, asking how the Constitution could bar the suspension of a right that didn't exist -- a right, he noted, that was first recognized in medieval England as a shield against the king's power to dispatch troublesome subjects to royal dungeons

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bush Tragedy: Act V

I watched Pres. Bush's "State of the Union" address. I am reminded of a story about a young preacher who delivered his first sermon. The young man was very full of himself and it showed in the manner in which he ascended to the pulpit. However, his sermon was very poorly delivered. One could tell that even he knew this by the humbled way he descended from the pulpit. An older minister who had been the young man's mentor came to him at the end of the service and said, "If ye had gone up the way ye had come down, ye woulda gone down the way ye had come up." Bush has been humbled by the events in Iraq and in the Fall elections. Had he approached his presidency in the spirit he displayed last night, he would have the unity he absolutely needs now. But, it is too late for that. The Bank of Political Capital is bankrupt. We are seeing the last act of the Bush tragedy."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

More Die in Mr. Bush's War

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. military helicopter crashed Saturday northeast of Baghdad, killing all 13 people on board, a new blow to American efforts in Iraq. The military said the crash was under investigation. The brief U.S. statement lacked the customary comment that the aircraft was not shot down, indicating it may have come under fire by insurgents.
The helicopter was carrying 13 passengers and crew members and all were killed, it said.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm not sure how valid this is, but here is a link to a group that claims private citizens can initiate impeachment proceeding against Bush. I'll let you decide.