Sunday, July 31, 2005

In England President Carter Criticizes US Foreign Policy

While in Birmingham, England -- Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq as "unnecessary and unjust" saying “I think the premises on which it was launched were false” Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hat Tip: See Washington Post article at

President George W. Bush’s comments are near identical to those made by President Bill Clinton in 1998 when President Clinton authorized military action in Iraq.

What are specifically the false premises that Clinton made?

President Clinton addressed the American people saying:
· [The] “mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.”
· “to protect the national interest of the United States and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.”
· “to oversee the elimination of Iraq's capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability.”
· “at the end of the Gulf War … Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.”
· “With Saddam, He has used them…even against his own people …and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.”
· “The UN Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam's actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance.”
· “Saddam [had] one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.”
· “along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.” “So Iraq has abused its final chance.”
· “the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.”
· “This situation presents a clear and present danger …The international community gave Saddam one last chance …And so we had to act and act now.”
· Otherwise “Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years. .. someday -- make no mistake -- he will use it again as he has in the past.”

For the complete transcript of President Bill Clinton’s December 1998 remarks, go online to

In Defense of Organized Sports

You don’t see these remarks very often.

I participated in Catholic Youth Organization, Little league, Pony & Colt baseball programs, and Pop Warner football. Our boys played AYSO soccer and Little League where I coached, managed and umpired.

See David Brooks New York Times July 31, 2005 column “Boys of Summer” at

I agree with David Brooks:
- “There isn't a [player] who hasn't experienced, along with many moments of glory, crushing moments of defeat”
- “has been one of the most fabulous experiences of our lives”
- “What the critics miss is … the rhythms of disciplined learning and exuberant play”
- “They have … coaches who talk more directly about character, self-sacrifice and discipline than other people in their lives or in their culture”
- “the players develop this emotional resilience, this fatalistic ability to accept the good and the bad, which will serve them well in life”
- “We have seen loutish coaches and parents who live through their kids' glory - the stuff of Little League cliché. But that is rare.”

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Should Presidents Transform US Supreme Court? – Part II

I exchanged emails with a liberal friend where I stated “I think Presidents who win elections should be able to transform the court. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt going from 9 old men to appointing 8 Associate Justices to the Supreme Court”.

This liberal replied “Very arbitrary Gene when you consider just under half the population DID NOT vote for this current President. By the way Roosevelt won by a landslide - it's a poor comparison.”

In 2004, George W. Bush was elected with 51% of the vote.
How does this compare with prior Presidents?

Interesting Franklin D. Roosevelt was last reelected in 1944 with 53.4% of the votes cast.

1948 Harry S. Truman Democrat 49.5% who then appointed to the Supreme Court:
- Harold Burton - 1945
- Fred M. Vinson - Chief Justice - 1946
- Tom Clark - 1949
- Sherman Minton - 1949

1960 John F. Kennedy Democrat 49.72% appointed:
- Byron White - 1962
- Arthur Goldberg – 1962

1968 Richard Nixon Republican 43% and appointed all in his first term:
- Warren E. Burger - Chief Justice - 1969
- Harry Blackmun - 1970
- Lewis Powell, Jr. - 1972
- William Rehnquist – 1972

1976 Jimmy Carter 50.1% who had no vacancies

1992 Bill Clinton 43% and appointed in his first term
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 1993
- Stephen Breyer – 1994

Eisenhower, Johnson, Reagan, George H.W. Bush all won by significant majorities, however, Clinton was reelected in 1996 with only 49.24% of the votes cast.

American democracy has long recognized the winner of elections as the President deserving respect and the use of all Constitutional executive powers. Winning by a landslide does not increase the President’s Constitutional authority.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Read Ann Christoph Column on ““Mansions Matter”

See Ann Christoph “Village Matters” column at the Laguna Beach Independent July 29, 2005 entitled “Mansions Matter”. It is a must read.
See at at

Former Mayor Ann Christoph states: “Now we have … extremely large single-family houses being proposed and built in our city. This trend even has its own moniker—‘mansionization’.”

“In November 2002, the City Council adopted a series of mansionization recommendations. [However] there was no limit imposed on the total floor area of structures.” “we are still seeing applications for 9,000 square foot houses with nine-car garages being seriously considered by Design Review.”

Despite City Municipal Code section 25.05.040 “New development should be compatible with the existing development in the neighborhood and respect neighborhood character.”

“There is action the Council can take to address this issue:
1. Direct the Planning Commission to re-examine the issue of floor area limits, limits that can be tailored to the immediate neighborhood of the application.
2. Change the DesignReview submittal requirements to include a tabulation of the sizes of all of the houses within the 300 feet noticing area, and demonstrate that their proposal is within 10% of the average of the house sizes in the neighborhood.
3. Reiterate that the Design Review Board’s review is discretionary and that they have the prerogative to set stricter limits on size depending on site and neighborhood conditions.
4. Pass an urgency ordinance requiring an automatic appeal to Council for any house over 5,000 square feet or with more than a three car garage.”

Support California Proposition 77 – End Gerrymandering in California

Gerrymandering has always been an unseemly part of politics. Many politicians feel themselves superior where corners can be cut to get elected. They justify this as they are noble and will do the right thing. This attitude together with modern computers has taken us to the present situation in the United States – a basic loss of competitive elections.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger State of the State speech January 5, 2005
“we must make California’s elections democratic once again.
When I was studying to take my citizenship test, I learned about gerrymandering and how politicians changed the boundaries of a voting area to protect themselves. For a long time I thought that was something that happened way back in the 1800’s, but the practice is still alive and well today.
Here is a telling statistic: 153 of California’s congressional and legislative seats were up in the last election and not one changed parties.
What kind of democracy is that?
I will propose that an independent panel of retired judges-not politicians-determine California’s legislative and congressional districts.
They can draw fair, honest district lines that make politicians of both parties accountable to the people.
The current system is rigged to benefit the interests of those in office . . . not the interests of those who put them there. And we must reform it.”

“When we ask them to risk their lives for democracy over there, how dare we not take the risk to reform our democracy here!
Our troops should come home to a government as noble as their sacrifice.”

From Sacramento Union

Prop 77 is a very courageous step for the Governor to take, and the election on November 8, 2005 a most important one.

And the Bear Flag League's Special Election Blog at
Read that former Governor “Gray Davis Supports Redistricting Change”

See the outrageous 23rd Congressional District at

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Laguna Beach Bluebird Canyon Slide Deserves Federal Disaster Aid

Laguna Beach Bluebird Canyon slide deserves Federal disaster aid.

Why is there such a delay in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determining that the Laguna Beach Bluebird Canyon landslide was caused by the heavy rains that prompted the Governor and the President to declare several Southern California Counties – including Orange County – disaster areas? (Ref: FEMA – DR-1577 and FEMA-1585-DR)

Due to the heavy rainfall this winter, both Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George W. Bush have declared portions of Southern California disaster areas making local agencies and individuals eligible for a variety of State and Federal assistance.

The City of Laguna Beach has submitted evidence from Geofirm that confirms the linkage between the events that prompted the disaster declarations and the Bluebird Canyon slope failure. The depth of the failure, the relatively gentle gradient of the slope that failed and the presence of groundwater near the toe of the slope are just some of the factors that prove the failure was caused by the heavy rains. Geofirm’s opinion is consistent with the conclusions of geologists from the United States Geologic Service and the State of California.

California’s elected officials have been supportive of disaster assistance to victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. around the country. California’s elected officials should contact FEMA and encourage them to as quickly as possible review the technical information and provide disaster assistance to our local government. In addition, our elected officials should push for grants and low cost loans to affected individuals similar to individuals suffering disasters in other places in our country.

Concerned citizens should contact:
- Congressman Christopher Cox at
or by calling (949) 756-2244
- Senator Barbara Boxer  email going to and clicking
under "Contact Us" or calling (213) 894-5000
- Senator Dianne Feinstein going to
and clicking "Contact Me" or calling (310) 914-7300
- California State Senator John Campbell at
or calling 714-957-4555
- California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore email going to or calling (949)863-7070

Another way to help, including making financial contribution is through Laguna Relief. For information or to contribute go to

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Washington Post Editorial on Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)

Hat Tip to Full editorial at

The Stakes in CAFTA Washington Post Editorial Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"Most House Democrats don't want to hear this; they claim that CAFTA is opposed by "pro-poor" groups in the region. But this claim is troubling on two levels.
- First, CAFTA would actually help the poor: It would create 300,000 new jobs in shoes, textiles and apparel; it would create a new mechanism for enforcing labor rights; and a World Bank study has found that the vast majority of poor families in the region would gain from the deal.
- But second, the defeat of CAFTA would help not anti-poverty movements but anti-American demagogues, starting with Mr. Chavez. For them, the retreat of the United States from partnership with Central America would be a major victory."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Should Presidents Transform US Supreme Court?

Liberals are concerned that President George W. Bush will nominate a justice that will change the balance on the Court and "will overturn seventy years of American jurisprudence".

The United States Constitution became effective in 1789 or 216 years ago. Why aren’t they concerned about overturning two hundred sixteen years of American jurisprudence?

Because President Franklin D. Roosevelt transformed the balance on the U.S. Supreme Court. Actually Roosevelt was elected President serving twelve years, and he appointed eight of the nine Justices, and elevated another to Chief Justice. The Republicans did not filibuster, as that action was unthinkable.

Like President Bush, President Roosevelt did not have a Supreme Court vacancy during his first term, but then he systematically replaced philosophical and economic conservatives with liberals who would support his unprecedented expansion of Federal government authority. During his second and third terms, in less than six years between August 1937 and February 1943, he made eight Associate Justice appointments.

Roosevelt was elected in 1932 during the early years of the Great Depression and had the Democratic Congress enact laws encompassing powers that were previously unimaginable that the Federal government possessed. The New Deal’s National Recovery Administration (NRA) was supposed to work with labor and management to develop national wage, price, and production codes that would, theoretically, have systematized and rationalized prices and wages.

Roosevelt referred to the Court as "nine old men". From
Roosevelt was President for over two years when in May 1935, the Supreme Court, in the case of Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, unanimously invalidated the NRA and the legislation that created it. The lengthy, unanimous opinion, the Court struck down the as an unconstitutional exercise of legislative authority by the executive branch:
- "action which lies outside the sphere of constitutional authority"
- "The Constitution established a national government with powers deemed to be adequate, as they have proved to be both in war and peace, but these powers of the national government are limited by the constitutional grants."
- "Those who act under these grants are not at liberty to transcend the imposed limits because they believe that more or different power is necessary."
- "Extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power."
- "the statutory plan is not simply one for voluntary effort. It does not seek merely to endow voluntary trade or industrial associations or groups with privileges or immunities. It involves the coercive exercise of the law-making power."
- "The codes of fair competition which the statute attempts to authorize are codes of laws. If valid, they place all persons within their reach under the obligation of positive law, binding equally those who assent and those who do not assent. Violations of the provisions of the codes are punishable as crimes."
Source: "A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. et al. v. United States."
Argued May 2, 3, 1935—Decided May 27, 1935.

Roosevelt Associate Justice appointments transforms Supreme Court:
- Hugo Black (AL) August 19, 1937–September 17, 1971
- Stanley Forman Reed (KY) January 31, 1938–February 25, 1957
- Felix Frankfurter (MA) January 30, 1939–August 28, 1962
- William O. Douglas (CT) April 17, 1939–November 12, 1975
- Frank Murphy (MI) February 5, 1940–July 19, 1949
- James Francis Byrnes (SC) July 8, 1941–October 3, 1942
- Robert H. Jackson (NY) July 11, 1941–October 9, 1954
- Wiley Blount Rutledge (IA) February 15, 1943–September 10, 1949

In addition, he appointed Associated Justice Harlan Fiske Stone (July 3, 1941) to Chief Justice. [Ref:]

Among the many things the New Deal regulated was the amount of crops allowed to be grown and what they sold for, including mandating that food be destroyed during a time of hunger in America. Could the Federal government powers be so expansive to include telling American citizens what they could grow on their own property for their own use? Even with crops not to be sold, Roosevelt’s re-balanced Court so ruled claiming the constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. (see George Will column, June 8, 2005 Judging this Court at

See Wickard v. Filburn
Some liberals are today concerned about the intrusive Controlled Substances Act which makes homegrown marijuana used by the citizen for their own medicinal use illegal criminal a person growing . However, the current Court i 2005 reiterated the Federal government commerce clause power in deciding 6-3 the recent medical marijuana case. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented "If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything," including "quilting bees, clothes drives and potluck suppers." Thus "the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Jihadists Duty to Kill the Infidels

Wouldn’t it just be easier to believe Osama Bin Laden that he is involved in a jihad, a Muslim holy war against infidels that is non-believers?

See Osama bin Laden fatwa August 1996 "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places."

Most religions sincerely consider their religion the one true religion. The jihadists genuinely feel that way and, whether losers or great successes in life, feel it is their duty to convert or kill non-believers, the infidels.

Although the United States and westerners came to the aid of Muslims in protecting Saudi Arabia and evicting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, came to the aid of Muslims in Bosnia, came to the aid of Muslims in Somalia, etc., Osama Bin Laden sees the world differently:
"The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about "Human Rights" were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world."

So Osama Bin Laden August 1996 fatwa includes:
- "The people are close to an all encompassing punishment from Allah if they see the oppressor and fail to restrain him."
- "We ask Allah to bestow us with victory."

Osama Bin Laden has grievances against the Saudi regime, but his grievances would be true in most all countries in the world;
(1) "Suspension of the Islamic Shari'ah law and exchanging it with man made civil law."

With most U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia and oil prices now at the $60 per barrel level, Osama might be willing to drop this grievance:
(2) "The inability of the regime to protect the country, and allowing the enemy of the Ummah [nation of the believers]- the American crusader forces- to occupy the land for the longest of years. ..[Oil] production is restricted or expanded and prices are fixed to suit the American economy ignoring the economy of the country."

And lots of other comments in the 17 page August 1996 fatwa at

Note: to those who blame George W. Bush for stirring up trouble with the jihadists, August 1996 was more than four years before Bush took office as President.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Another Hit for the Laguna Beach Film Society

Earlier this year, I cried like a baby viewing the Laguna Beach Film Society movie "Mad Hot Ballroom".

What an unbelievable school program New York City has! 6,000 fifth grade students develop discipline, teamwork, and self-esteem learning ballroom dancing. It was very touching as the dance competition progressed to the finals with those fifth graders making lots of wise and funny comments.

Last night, I cried like a baby viewing the latest Laguna Beach Film Society movie "Saint Ralph". An adorable 9th grader doesn’t want to be an orphan. With his mother in a coma, he outruns everyone's expectations except his own in his bold quest of trying to win the 1954 Boston Marathon.

Lovers of cinema should mark their calendars each third Thursday of each month. Receptions start at 6 PM with wine and hors d’oeuvres. Those who stay after the film can participate in discussing the movie with guests who have included the film’s director or actors.

The Laguna Beach Exchange Club started this film series and for the last couple years the Laguna Art Museum has sponsored it. Information on the Laguna Beach Film Society is at the Museum’s web site at

One can become a Laguna Film Society member for $150 a year ($125 for Laguna Art Museum members). Otherwise, single tickets can be purchased.

Blue States to Secede from the Union

I received an email from a Democratic friend which started "We’re ticked off at the way you’ve treated California, and we’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us. To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states."

Not surprisingly the history is off. Oklahoma did not beocme a State until the twentith century, while Texas and Maryland were slave States. Texas was the seventh State to join the Confederacy. It would be peculiar for Maryland, a slave State but a very blue State [Gore by 16% and Kerry by 13%], to now secede when they remained loyal to the Union and did not secede in the 1860s.

I was surprised that a Democrat would have the brazenness to bring up slavery given the history of the Democratic Party and slavery, segregation, and intimidating citizens not to vote. Using the filibuster to stop anti-lynching and civil rights legislation. Instead of living down their war is a failure 1864 platform peace plank, they revive it frequently when the United States is fighting enemies.

In 1864 "The Democrats nominated their candidates and adopted their ‘war is a failure’ platforms." [page 149 Antietam, The Battle That Changed the Course of the Civil War by James M. McPherson]. "Denouncing the Emancipation Proclamation as unconstitutional, Democrats also appealed to the racial fears and prejudices of many Northern voters. In state and district party conventions, Democratic resolutions denounced the Black Republican ‘party of fanaticism’ that intended to free ‘two or three million semi-savages’ to ‘overrun the North and enter into competition with the white laboring masses’ and mix with ‘their sons and daughters.’ Midwestern Democratic orators proclaimed that ‘every white man in the North, who does not want to be swapped off for a free N______ [the N word], should vote the Democratic ticket’." [page 147].

The Democrats nominated George B. McClellan, a popular general whom Lincoln had fired as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Peace Democrats inserted a plank in the party’s platform calling for an immediate cession of fighting and a negotiated settlement. McClellan repudiated the 1864 Democratic Party’s antiwar platform of immediate peace with the South but assured the base of the Democratic Party that he would support states’ rights and the continuance of slavery in the South after the end of the Civil War.

It also takes a lots of a audacity for Democrats to bring up secession which they should know violates the law of the land. The United States Supreme Count ruled in 1869 in Texas v. White that a State could not unilaterally secede from the Union, such an act was "absolutely null", that even during a period of rebellion would continue to be a State.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Kyoto Treaty Was Signed by United States

The Kyoto Treaty took effect early in 2005 without the participation of the United States.

I have heard many times that the United Sates did not sign the Kyoto Treaty. That is not true. Vice President Albert Gore initialed the Treaty and President Bill Clinton, likely following his triangulation strategy, had the Kyoto Treaty signed on November 12, 1998 by Peter Burleigh, then the United States Acting Ambassador to the United Nations. See UN press release at

Of course the Clinton Administration knew all along that in accordance with the United States Constitution, the Senate has responsibility for advice and consent to ratify treaties that have been negotiated and agreed to by the President. Section 2, Clause 2: "[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur."

President Clinton did not have support for the Kyoto Treaty and never did submit it to the Senate for a ratification vote.

Prior to the Clinton Administration signing the Kyoto Treaty, the Senate in 1997, by a vote of 97-0, approved the Byrd-Hagel resolution. To the Senate, it was clear that the Treaty was not in the interest of the United States. The 1997 Byrd-Hagel resolution established a clear threshold: Unless developing countries accept emissions limitations and the Administration demonstrates the treaty will not harm the U.S. economy, the Senate would not ratify any global warming treaty.

Developing countries are exempt from the Kyoto Treaty despite the expectation that most of the growth in the global emissions over the next several decades will be from India and China.
Students of history will recall that after President Woodrow Wilson’s inability to have the Senate ratify Unites States participation in the League of Nations, Presidents are wise to have the support of Senators before signing a Treaty.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Orange County Great Park

Now that it won't be an airport how about getting involved in the park?

OCGP Stakeholders Meet June 05
John Pfeffer and Gene Felder represented the Laguna Canyon Conservancy at the June 18, 2005 Orange County Great Park Stakeholders Meeting.

Gene's comments:

I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the Millennium Plan and resulting Orange County Great Park, however I learned a number of negative things at the Stakeholders meeting Saturday, June 18, 2005. Some of this is just facing up to reality, and I am still quite enthusiastic. This is particularly so when I remember it is replacing a large international airport at El Toro.

The Navy is "in escrow" selling the Lennar Communities will be able to develop approximately 16% of the property. In return, Lennar must pay $200 million in development fees and an additional $200 million in property assessments to be used for the development of the Great Park.

I have been telling people that:
- Out of the 4,700 acres, only 1,000 acres would be privately
developed leaving about a 5,700 acre urban park which would be larger than New York's Central Park, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, and San Diego's Balboa Park combined.
- The Marine Air Station at El Toro has over 1,000 of natural open
space which would remain as permanent open space.
- This open space abuts the Cleveland National Forest and would be
connected to the Laguna Wilderness Park/Crystal Cove State Park providing the longest natural corridor (from Pacific Ocean to Mexico

Some negative (and positive) things I learned:
- 1,000 acre natural open space is a Federal Refuge
- counted as part of the Great Park
- not really part of the Park as people not allowed there
- area is not pristine but degraded requiring restoration
- not protected as part of Park; although unlikely Federal govt could sell
- Corridor
- Not hiking trail, animals only
- Between two golf courses as narrow as 500 feet
- Not suitable for mountain lions, designed for small mammal
- Private Ownership - Public Uses
- Large portion of Park
- Golf courses, cemetery
- Might be a plus as they would pay property taxes
- Big surprise to me is that privately owned homes would be along privately owned open to the public golf courses
- Public Ownership - Public Uses
- Only about 1,200 acres
- Includes sports facilities, exposition (museums) and meadows park
- Seven designers selected to offer their designs for Park
- Goal is within 3 years these sports facilities and meadows park to be a reality

Under the terms of a development agreement offered by the City of Irvine, Lennar Communities will be able to develop approximately 16% of the property. In return, Lennar must pay $200 million in development fees and an additional $200 million in property assessments to be used for the development of the Great Park. Land Use Plan
The Great Park Plan will allow development on the property that is consistent with the uses allowed by the voter-approved Measure W. Under the Great Park Plan, the 4,693-acre El Toro property will become a master planned community. This community will include:
. More than 83% of the total acreage will be dedicated to open
space uses, including a Meadows Park, a Sports Park, an Educational Campus, an Exposition Center (including museum and cultural activities), and a Wildlife Corridor.
. 1,200 acres will be owned by the public.
. 10% of the property will be designated for the Great Park
Communities, which will include housing, offices, public golf courses and shopping.

Development Agreement
A Development Agreement with the City of Irvine will give the landowner the right to develop the Great Park Communities within the Great Park. The Development Agreement will require the landowner to transfer 1,200 acres to public ownership and pay $401 million dollars in development fees and assessments. This revenue will be used to develop the Great Park, including roads, sewers, utilities, lights and other basic infrastructure.