Archive for category Supreme Court

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

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The Millionaire Party

Monopoly Man

Tonight on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show Prof. Dorian Warren of Columbia University (citing the book White Collar Government by Nicholas Carnes) wondered aloud what it would be like if the millionaires formed their own political party, a party representing just 3 percent of Americans.

  • The Millionaire Party would already occupy the White House.
  • They would control the House of Representatives.
  • They would have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
  • And the Millionaires would have a 5-4 Supreme Court majority.

While there is no such thing as the Millionaire Party, does it matter that the wealthiest Americans set the tax rates for the wealthy, that white-collar professionals choose the minimum wage for blue-collar workers, and that people who have always had health insurance decide whether or not to help those without? Could be.

See videos …
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Say goodbye to Democracy in the South

Today as you all know, a segment in the Voting Rights Act was ruled unconstitutional. More specifically, it was a segment where laws passed by southern states had to be approved by the federal government. That is no more and guess what? Not two hours later, Texas passed a bill that reduces the number of polling places in heavily black and latino areas.

http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/06/25/that-was-quick-texas-moves-ahead-with-discriminatory-voting-laws/

With this it’s good to know who our enemies are. Of course there are going to be naysayers of my claim. To which I say, you are not fooling anyone. This is a bill that prevented elected officials from changing the voting laws so that they can chose who can vote. An elected official who goes through the democratic system and has a goal to get elected gets to chose who can and who cannot vote. If that is Democracy to you, then you are either a liar or you are a sore loser from the last election. This was in the bill for a very good reason. these states that had to go through the process were states with a long history of racism. Before the act, you had laws that made it very difficult for blacks to vote. They had things such as poll tax, forcing you to pay for a vote and literacy tests that not even an English Graduate could pass. This happened because elected officials do not like democracy and in a long history of racism and bigotry, they had an enemy who could vote them out of the office. What did they do? changed the laws so they could stay in power. Now already it hasn’t even been a day and there are laws being passed to do just the same thing.

Politicians love Democracy the same way businesses love competition.

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This Isn’t Funny Anymore

Doctored Photo

Doctored Photo

Why does the Supreme Court keep injecting themselves into our voting system, enabling the plutocrats to get their way? Here comes another 5 to 4 vote. You can count on it. When justice Scalia stunned the court this week by saying the voting rights act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement”, what was he talking about?

Sounds like Scalia’s living in another era. This is every bit as much about white peoples right to vote as any other race. I’ve been struggling to know my vote is being counted ever since Scalia and his gang of five stole the presidential race in 2000. After all, Scalia said that Americans didn’t necessarily have the RIGHT to vote for their president. He didn’t say anything about congresspeople, but we know that in the 2012 election, Democrats in the house got far more votes then Republicans. Gerrymandering stole the day for the losers there, but let’s face it, republican election fraud has so many avenues in the 21st century, you wouldn’t know where to turn without GPS.

If any of these clueless old white guys who watch Fox “news” think they’re going to benefit from preventing people who make less then a billion dollars a year from voting, they are going to feel pretty silly standing there with their pants down when the realization of what has happened finally hits them. Bush v Gore, Citizens United, and now this! Haven’t we been hearing for years that Judges shouldn’t be legislating from the bench? The Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized numerous times and the last time was in 2005, when the Senate voted 98 to 0 to retain it.

This reminds me of the kind of hubris exposed by Ron Suskind in this 2004 statement, which most now believe was made by Karl Rove, (someone who is widely believed to be rigging our elections):

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Robert Parry gives an insight into how we got here in his recent article concerning the coming supreme court ruling on the voting rights act:

Over the past half century, wealthy right-wingers have invested millions and millions of dollars in “think tanks” and other research institutions – the likes of Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and Federalist Society – that have worked diligently to cherry-pick the nation’s early history to transform America’s Founding narrative into its opposite, with Washington and Madison made into states’ rights lovers and federal government haters.

The hubris has become so visible that during Obama’s last election, a Republican governor was bragging about suppressing votes for the president, and Fox “news” had to cut to a commercial when Karl Rove tried to halt the announcement of Obama’s victory.

This isn’t just enraging, it’s downright dangerous!

NOTE: OK, I doctored the photo of Scalia, but we all know that’s what he meant.

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National Rifle Association Has Turned the Second Amendment Into a Cruel and Deadly Hoax

The NRA is the enabler of death-paranoid, delusional and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel and deadly hoax. – Bill Moyers

NRA Enabler of death

NRA Enabler of death

Bill Moyers Essay: Living Under the Gun from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

The procession of funerals of innocent children under the casual gaze of the gun lobby and 2nd Amendment zealots, reminds us that our public spaces are no longer safe. This is the antithesis of freedom and civic life. Americans must rise up now against this terror and demand basic security for unarmed people.

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Actual Factors in Gun Violence

The Atlantic has a completely unsurprising look at gun violence stats in America. Which means the gun nuts will all scream and yell and say the stat and conclusions are all wrong…

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Health Care Reform is Unpopular. Right?

The devil is deeply embedded in the details on this one.

At Kos, there’s a fairly lengthy analysis of the generally ambiguous polling on the ACA aka Obamacare.

WaPo:

A poll taken days before the high court’s ruling found that 43 percent of Americans said the court should not overturn the law, and 35 percent hoped it would.

The Public Religion Research Institute poll also found that one in five Americans (21 percent) had no opinion on what the court should do.

Gallup:

Americans are sharply divided over Thursday’s Supreme Court decision on the 2010 healthcare law, with 46% agreeing and 46% disagreeing with the high court’s ruling that the law is constitutional. Democrats widely hail the ruling, most Republicans pan it, and independents are closely divided.

Except for the mandate, its major components are all popular with the public.  People are confused about the bill, what it does and doesn’t do, and what it will mean once it’s fully enacted.  It’s a complex bill dealing with complex problems and people are confused about its impact. Read the rest of this entry »

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Taking anti-intellectualism to its logical conclusion

I have been swamped with a new course, and have actually been behind by a week or so on my usual news digest. Hell I haven’t been to any of the conservative news sites I usually laugh so hard at in two or three weeks. Instead of trying to catch up, I just wiped the slate clean and decided to start reading news today as if the last few weeks where trapped away in an alternate dimension, never to be heard from again…

I am so glad I did.

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Supreme Court Upholds the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare Survives

Read more about it here, here, here, here. and here.

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Building and Running A Progressive Coalition

At Americablog.  The Four Big Points:

Rules for managing an Effective Progressive Coalition

1. No constituency in the Coalition takes a backward step to advance another’s cause. (I call this the Cruickshank Rule; see below.)

2. Members of the Coalition have each others’ back. No constituency under attack stands alone.

3. The Coalition serves the Coalition, not the Democratic Partyor any other group or goals.

4. The Coalition preferences political action to discussion. (This is the No Dithering Rule.)

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“There is no racism” versus “It’s Okay to Talk About Race”

David Graham at The Atlantic:

But many on the right have adopted the view that the only way to address racism is to pretend it does not exist. Thus, anyone who talks about race or acknowledges race or makes mention of the fraught American relationship with racism must by definition be a racist. Clearly, that makes Barack Obama and Derrick Bell racists. It also makes Juan Williams, a center-right commentator, a racist when he points out that Newt Gingrich is using “food stamps” as code for “black.”

I think there’s truth here, but something else at work as well.  Many conservatives consider themselves to be non-racist, yet in almost every conversation about race they find themselves accused of being racist.  So they draw the conclusion that talking about race is by definition a racist act.  If racism was making decisions based on race, it was paying too much attention to race so the obvious solution is to not see race; if the solution to racism is colorblindness than even mentioning race must be inherently racist.  Which is how we got the insane spectacle of Sarah Palin claiming the first black president wanted to return to the pre-Civil War era.  Unable to grasp that people might oppose racism in principle, conservatives have determined that the only reason to do so is base political motives.

However, the absence of overt legal discrimination (i.e. “in the years immediately following Brown v. Board of Education, as the federal government dragged southern states kicking and screaming toward abolishing Jim Crow laws”) has led many conservatives to conclude that there is no racism:

Ta-Nehisi Coates

I think this sort of thinking is endemic to how the conservative movement thinks about racism. For them it isn’t an actual force, but a rhetorical device for disarming your opponents. So one does not call Robert Weissberg racist and question his ties to National Review because one seeks to stamp out racism, but because one hopes to secure the White House for Democrats. Or some such. Even if you have a record of calling out bigotry voiced by people deemed to be “on your team,” it doesn’t much matter because there’s no real belief in it existing to begin with.
 
The conservative movement doesn’t understand anti-racism as a value, only as a rhetorical pose. This is how you end up tarring the oldest integrationist group in the country (the NAACP) as racist. The slur has no real moral content to them. It’s all a game of who can embarrass who. If you don’t think racism is an actual force in the country, then you can only understand it’s invocation as a tactic.

Paul Waldman:

The message is always the same: Obama and the blacks are mad, and they’re coming for you. Yet people like the Breitbart folks and Limbaugh have two problems. First, they’re running out of material. There aren’t any more shocking revelations to be had. The best they can do is try to make mountains of racial resentment out of the most innocuous molehills, like the fact that Obama supported Derrick Bell’s effort to diversify the faculty when he was a law student. And second, by now anyone who can be convinced that Obama is a secret Black Panther never thought otherwise. The guy has been president for three years. Americans are pretty familiar with him. He hasn’t actually started herding white people into concentration camps, and it’s an awfully tough sell to tell people that he might any day now.

This is a version of the larger problem conservatives have as we get into the 2012 election. The argument many of them will be making, in various forms, is this: Forget about what Obama has actually done. That doesn’t tell you anything. Let me tell you a story about his secret desires, his wicked thoughts, his venomous heart. That’s what your decision should be based on. You hear it from media bloviators, you hear it from interest groups, like the NRA screeching that if he’s re-elected Obama will outlaw guns, and you hear it from Mitt Romney, who is forever claiming that deep down Obama doesn’t much love America and wants to turn it into a European-style social-welfare state. Who are you going to believe, them, me, or or your own eyes?

Watching this stuff is immensely dispiriting, I’ll grant you. But it should be some consolation that it doesn’t seem to be working.

We’re left with a morass of racial resentment seethe and bubble.  It reminds me of a line of Sara Robinson’s – that for centuries men got all kinds of ego-candy out women’s need to take care of their babies and they’re not giving it up easily.  It’s the same dyanmic at work.  White folks got lots of ego-candy out of a society that was structured to keep them from competing with black people and giving up that eg0-candy is hard work.

 

148 Comments

You have the right to spread them

I have been waiting for the libertarian rights defenders who hate the activist courts to post something about this. Maybe mention it in another thread. A top post maybe. A simple link to one of these pro constitution websites they all hang out on. A screed about keeping the government out of our lives. Anything really. But nothing yet.

Maybe they are all shy? Maybe I just need to get it started for them?

OK, maybe this can kick it off. The highest court ’round has decided the cops can strip search you pretty much on a whim. Where is all the protest? Being forced to buy insurance is socialism and if two guys you have never met want to marry, society will be destroyed, but if the courts say the long arm of the law can perform cavity searches without cause, well that is just good government?

Can we at least teach the cops how to perform exams and combine it with the ACA?

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