FORGET DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS AND GREENS- BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!

The United States Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, has just overturned a Kansas State Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of a Kansas death penalty statute. The Kansas court had held that the statute- which provided that where the evidence was equally divided on the question of sentencing a defendant to life imprisonment without parole or death the death penalty should apply- was unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment. Apparently the U.S. Supreme Court had no such qualms as it positioned itself just slightly to the left of the medieval Star Chamber. New justices, Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito voted with the majority, the usual rogue’s gallery of black-robed closet Nazis Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy. That should come as no surprise to militants.

The immediate impact on the decision on death penalty cases is to further narrow the so-called technical arguments for appeal on due process or equal protection grounds. There was a time when the legal concept of an ‘evolving standard of human decency’ in death penalty cases was making some headway. That concept seems foreclosed by the current U.S. Supreme Court lineup for the foreseeable future The wrangling now seems to be over whether the court will continue to ‘tinker with the machinery of death’ as the liberals on the court will argue or basically let the death machine roll along relatively unimpeded. Remember this, however, not one of the nine current justices, liberal or conservative, has come close to calling the death penalty unconstitutional. Whatever the grounds for argument all militants know that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment and should be abolished.

A reader might ask what a workers party justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would do. In the immediate case, obviously bloc with the minority of justices to oppose this decision which narrows the legal basis for individual appeals. He or she, however, would write a separate opinion denouncing the death penalty and use this tribunal as a way to galvanize support for that position. Realistically, although many bourgeois governments have abolished the death penalty, at the point where we had a workers party U.S. Supreme Court justice we would probably have a workers government. As one of its first acts that government would abolish such punishment without fanfare.

In any case, no serious militant should believe that the fight against the death penalty (for the guilty as well as the innocent) depends on court majorities. While all legal avenues, including the U.S. Supreme Court, should be pursued in individual death penalty cases this is a fight that can only be finally won by organizing mass demonstrations and other militant action. Let us do it. DOWN WITH DEATH PENALTY!


NO TO THE FLAG-BURNING AMENDMENT- NO TO FEDERAL ANTI-FLAG-BURNING LEGISLATION

THEIR FLAG IS RED, WHITE AND BLUE. OUR FLAG IS STILL RED.

The Senate has just rejected, by a 66-34 vote, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution which would give special protection to the American flag and enable Congress to pass legislation penalizing acts of desecration on that banner. That vote fell just one vote short of the required 2/3 (66.66%) vote needed to pass it on to the state legislatures for a vote and final enactment. Of course, this kind of proposition is red meat to most Republicans and many Democrats. They can vote for these kind of measures all day, every day and not work up a sweat. The political calculus which drives American bourgeois electoral politics, votes, makes this a real slam dunk. The flag-burning community (all eleven of them) against your average sunshine, couch potato patriot. Even perennial Democratic presidential campaign consultant Robert Schrum can figure that one out.

The Democrats, not to be outdone, proposed as an alternative federal legislation which would protect the flag on federal property. A WORKERS PARTY Senator, on a straight up or down vote on the amendment would vote NO. (Yes, even if that meant a bloc with Democrats- this after all, is a democratic rights issue which we most definitely care about). He or She would also then turn around and vote NO on any federal anti-flag-burning legislation for the same reason (and feel good about being able kick the Democrats in the shins). Following are some quick comments on these developments.

There was a time in America when the American flag was worth militants fighting and dying for- the Civil War, 1961-65. Unfortunately, certain forebearers of the current august Senators on Capitol Hill, particularly from the Southern states, had no problem desecrating that flag as they beat the path to secession from the Union over the slavery question. Shouldn’t they then be just a little more circumspect about the rights of others these days who may not be respectful to their Confederate (oops, American) flag.

The amendment’s main sponsor Senator Hatch of Utah (Jesus, I thought he died during the Hoover administration, I really have to pay more attention to who is alive and who isn’t up on the Hill) who claimed that his motivation was to show respect for soldiers, etc. If the Senator means support the troops I already have a proposal for that- and it has nothing to do with flag-burning amendments. It has to do with fully funding 138,000 pairs of sneakers to get American troops the hell out of Iraq now. (See my blog, dated June 23, 2006). Hatch’s bizarre efforts are clear proof of why they are that quagmire in the first place.

Personally, this writer does not see the point of flag-burning as political protest. However, this is a First Amendment free speech issue and even the Neanderthals on the United States Supreme Court have, for now, declared that it is a protected expression of free speech. Moreover, I can sympathize with any militant (or ordinary citizen, for that matter) who is so outraged by the government’s policies that he or she needs to make such a material statement. However, in contrast to that form of expression let me propose another. This writer shed no tears when Old Glory was pulled down from the American Embassy after the Cuban Revolution by the Cubans or when it was pulled down from the American Embassy by the Vietnamese in 1975. Organizing the fight for socialism to change the flag from red, white and blue to red- that’s the real way to express our outrage. OUR FLAG IS STILL RED.


SUPREME COURT OUTLAWS PRIVATE PRESIDENTIAL MILITARY COURTS-FOR NOW

PRESIDENT MUST BEG CONGRESS REAL HARD FOR MILITARY COMMISSIONS.


Just as I started feeling good about beating up on the United States Supreme Court justices this week, calling them black-robed closet Nazis and Neanderthals (see above commentaries) the justices vote by 5-4 (oops, 5-3 Chief Justice Roberts recused himself on this one- but WE all know where he stands) to deny President Bush the right to use his own executive-derived and organized private Star Chamber proceedings against detained ‘enemy combatants’.

This decision would seem to negate this writer’s usual uncanny grasp of which way the political winds are blowing. Not so. Without trying to weasel out of this squeamish situation by lawyerly argument I would point out that in The Angels of Death Ride Again (see above) that the Court was positioning itself just to the left of the medieval Star Chamber. And I am correct on this. The Court’s decision did not strike down the executive military commissions as the vehicles for show trials that such commissions had become but only that the President must ask Congress nicely to set them up with all due regard for those shopworn concepts- the rule of law and the constitutional balance of powers. When the Court starts bringing these arguments in it’s definitely time to head for cover. How hard do you think the Bush administration is going to have to fight Congress (presumably in an election year) to get approval for legislation military commissions to try a bunch of Moslems fanatics. Damn, they live and breathe for these kinds of soft ball votes.

We live in desperate times as the above commentaries for only ONE WEEK make abundantly clear so we have to take even small victories, such as this decision when we can get them. Any limitation, no matter how small, on the Imperial Presidency can only help give us a little breather. Enough said.


THIS IS PART OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON THE 2006-2008 ELECTION CYCLE UNDER THE HEADLINE- FORGET THE DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS, GREENS-BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!

FOR MORE POLITICAL COMMENTARY AND BOOKS REVIEWS CHECK MY BLOG AT- Http://markinbookreview.blogspot.com/