Posts tagged news
Posts tagged news
The cowardly move by the Justice Department to subpoena two months of the AP’s phone records, both of its office lines and of the home phones of individual reporters, is potentially a breach of the Justice Department’s own guidelines. Even more important, it prevented the AP from seeking a judicial review of the action. Some months ago, apparently, the government sent a subpoena (or subpoenas) for the records to the phone companies that serve those offices and individuals, and the companies provided the records without any notice to the AP. If subpoenas had been served directly on the AP or its individual reporters, they would have had an opportunity to go to court to file a motion to quash the subpoenas. … Even beyond the outrageous and overreaching action against the journalists, this is a blatant attempt to avoid the oversight function of the courts.
In other news, Attorney General Eric Holder was the subject of a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee - where members of the House grilled Holder about the AP subpoenas - and where Holder (to my enjoyment) called Rep. Issa’s conduct as Congressmember “shameful”.
Justice Department Subpoena of AP Journalists Shows Need to Protect Calling Records | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Cindy Cohn, Kurt Opsahl, and Nate Cardozo
This revelation of government’s secret access to huge amounts of calling records as part of its leak investigation should not be such a surprise. The DOJ has long maintained that no one has any privacy interests in their call data records and has also engaged in unprecedented and aggressive prosecutions around government leaks … But it should sound a wake-up call for the rest of us, including members of Congress and the courts. Government data-mining of Americans’ calling records and other metadata held by phone companies and ISPs should require more than a mere subpoena and should be protected by more than a hortatory regulation, whether the target is the news media or an ordinary citizen.
While we as Americans revere in our amazing freedom, we tend to forget just how much freedom we don’t have. Some can argue that Americans have a Constitutional right to privacy, but not if something like the third party doctrine (“…knowingly revealing [info] to … third party relinquishes Fourth Amendment protection in that [info]) has something to say about it.
Here’s what happened concerning the Department of Justice and the Associated Press:
The government, however, should not be able to seize information the way they have done against the Associated Press. It is disrespectful towards the 1st Amendment and towards the American people.
This has always been a story about illegal abortion, a phrase that appears over and over in the Gosnell Grand Jury report. It’s about what women will subject themselves to when they see no other option for ending an unwanted pregnancy. It’s about the appalling lack of health care for poor women in this country, especially when it comes to abortion, which, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, isn’t covered by Medicaid. It’s about murdered babies from pregnancies that never should have gone as far as they did. … For decades now, reproductive rights advocates have warned of the return of the unsafe, clandestine procedures prevalent before Roe v. Wade. Well, after a multi-decade assault on reproductive rights, they’re here.
Kermit Gosnell is a criminal, and it was the right thing to do to convict this man (read the Grand Jury report here).
Some have taken up Gosnell’s situation to continue arguing against abortion, when something like the Hyde Amendment (that prohibits public funding of abortion) is what makes women go to people like Gosnell in the first place.
My Medical Choice - NYTimes.com
On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved, … I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action… I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options
Good for you Angelina Jolie. Just some troubling stats on breast cancer:
“New figures from Public Policy Polling find voters more likely to support Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) after they voted ‘yes’ on tightening background checks. These numbers are especially notable because both Democratic senators are up for reelection in 2014 in red states.” ‘On the flip side, as we showed here on Tuesday, approval ratings for several senators in both parties who voted against the measure—ultimately defeating it—have taken a noticeable dip. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK) were among the most bruised, according to the numbers.”
Rhode Island on Thursday became the nation’s 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, as a 16-year effort to extend marriage rights in this heavily Roman Catholic state ended with the triumphant cheers of hundreds of gays, lesbians, their families and friends.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law on the Statehouse steps Thursday evening following a final 56-15 vote in the House. The first weddings will take place Aug. 1, when the law takes effect.
“We need strong, effective leadership today to help guide and shape the policies that will have a profound effect on our state,” she said in a statement. “This race will not be about personalities. It will be about service, experience, and effectiveness.”
Republicans Will Clobber Obamacare Until They Hug It
There are lessons here about the difficulty of implementing large programs, the dangers of extrapolating from a program’s first months to gauge its long-term success and what it means to be a loyal opposition. The Republican Party isn’t learning them.By the 2016 presidential election, it’s likely to be a law that Democrats brag about and Republicans scamper to get behind. And the final act of this depressing little political play will be Republicans embracing this policy that they did everything to destroy, and trying to build on it.
Three Cheers for the Internet Tax!
The Daily Beast
E-commerce retailers may have smaller footprints than big box rivals, but they impose plenty of costs and rely heavily on public investment. E-commerce is essentially a logistics operation. Companies ship goods via the U.S. Postal Service, a public agency that may have to be bailed out by taxpayers, or UPS and Federal Express, which rely on the publicly built network of airports, roads, and ports to function. All those delivery trucks rumbling around help cause congestion and create wear and tear that has to be fixed by public authorities. The e-retailers didn’t build the logistics systems and the infrastructure. The public did.
Gross’ rationale for an online sales tax is that online retailers rely on public infrastructure and logistics, so why wouldn’t we tax them for that? Tod Cohen, eBay exec, is against the online sales tax, and has this to say:
The Internet sales tax bill threatens small businesses by treating them the same as multibillion dollar retailers that have stores and warehouses around the country.
Cohen doesn’t want sellers to be treated like big-box stores like WalMart, or Amazon (who ironically support the sales tax). But online sales have been growing exponentially, it would be a missed opportunity to tap into the power of the Interwebs. Even Republicans are showing support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, according to Matt Yglesias from Slate:
“The natural allies of eBay and Overstock are anti-tax Republicans, but with many GOP governors and lots of local retailers stridently in favor, this is proving to be one tax hike many Republicans can swallow.
Should we have an online sales tax here in the United States?
Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice
In that brief period after 9/11, I came to appreciate what blacks and Hispanics often talk about, what many conservatives dismiss as hypersensitive aggrievement: what it’s like to be under subtle suspicion for no other reason than how I look, and how profoundly unfair, and un-American, that experience feels, … I harbor no illusions about the malevolent nature of radical Islam. … But when I hear certain politicians use the Boston bombings as a pretext for scotching immigration reform … I wince. … The FBI was already monitoring Tamerlan Tsarnaev, even bringing him in for questioning two years ago. If we can’t keep an eye on the people whose emails we’re already reading, how is putting the entire Muslim community under government surveillance going to do us any good?
The Conservative Paranoid Mind
The Daily Beast
“The common thread through all of this is the conservative need to instill and maintain a level of fear in the populace. … Conservatism, I fear (so to speak), can never be cleansed of this need to instill fear. … I don’t even think it’s always cynical and manipulative; conservatives often do see enemies under every bed. But that doesn’t mean they’re there, and it most definitely doesn’t mean the rest of us ought to make law and policy based on their nightmares.
If Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says he is affiliated with al-Qaeda, he can say goodbye to his rights, as anyone affiliated with a terrorist organization is tried as an enemy combatant of the US. But the biggest noise about this fact is coming from the conservative side of the aisle. Sen. Lindsay Graham had gone on the news talk shows saying that we need to apply the “public exception rule” towards Tsarnaev, but we know NOTHING right now. Even Con. King says that he’s sure it has to be al-Qaeda. Why? Because he says so.
The Supreme Court had ruled before that enemy combatants still have due process rights. And the focus on delaying the immigration reform the Gang of Eight are releasing because of this terrorist act is ridiculous since the brothers have been on American soil for the longest time. There would’ve been nothing to stop this seemingly spontaneous act of destruction. Yet we still want to crack down on immigrants as if they’re the scourge of the planet. Never mind the fact that we can’t even protect ourselves from those who’ve illegally acquired guns at gun shows and online sales - after all, the 2nd Amendment is irrefutable - how could you even question it?
Conservatives have characteristically tried to instill fear into the population. Fear that someone else can attack and kill our kin. It’s how the Iraq War started, how the Patriot Act was allowed to pass, hell, even how CISPA just passed the House. Let Tomasky finish his own thesis: “Conservatism, I fear (so to speak), can never be cleansed of this need to instill fear. Whether it’s of black people or of street thugs or of immigrants or of terrorists or of jackbooted government agents, it’s how the conservative mind works. I don’t even think it’s always cynical and manipulative; conservatives often do see enemies under every bed. But that doesn’t mean they’re there, and it most definitely doesn’t mean the rest of us ought to make law and policy based on their nightmares.”
The Wrong Kind of Caucasian
“Despite the Tsarnaevs’ American upbringing, the media has presented their lives through a Chechen lens,Political strife in the North Caucasus, ignored by the press for years, has become the default rationale for a domestic crime. … Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs’ motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore into Wikipedia and came back with stereotypes. The Tsarnaevs were stripped of their 21st century American life and became symbols of a distant land, forever frozen in time.Ethnicity is often used to justify violent behaviour. But no ethnicity is inherently violent. Even if the Tsarnaevs aligned themselves with violent Chechen movements — and as of now, there is no evidence they did — treating Chechen ethnicity as the cause of the Boston violence is irresponsible.”
Reminiscent of the way Poland was denigrated when Leon Czolgosz assassinated President McKinley in 1901, we are targeting all Chechens are terrorists. Not to even mention the current Islamophobia due to 9/11. But the connection between Czolgosz and the Tsarnaevs show that no matter if the terrorist/attacker was American, we look for that scapegoat. When it was shown that the Tsarnaev brothers were Caucasian, the scope of conversation turned to mental instability, government grudges, etc. No longer is there a discussion of what race these domestic terrorists were.
Too quickly have we turned to WikiPedia to superficially learn about Chechnya (or in other cases, mistakenly the Czech Republic) to find out how we can shit on others. Our self-revered journalists are also guilty of this, looking to judge every picture the Tsarnaevs were in, and whoever they were interacting with as well.
We’re all guilty of this type of denigration and stereotyping. Some might say it is even human nature to automatically distinguish a difference between ourselves and the “other”. However, this is not acceptable and responsible, and we only serve to make ourselves more paranoid of our neighbors. This is America, after all, “the melting pot”. Sarah Kendzior finishes very nicely by quipping, “Chechens and other Muslim immigrants from the former Soviet Union are human beings. They are not walking symbols of violent conflict. Do not look to a foreign country to explain a domestic crime. Look to the two men who did it - and judge them by what they have done, not from where their ancestors came.”
The Way Forward on Guns
E.J. Dionne Jr.
“The next steps are up to the supporters of gun sanity. They can keep organizing to build on the unprecedented effort that went into this fight — or they can give up. They can challenge the senators who voted ‘no,’ or they can leave them believing that the ‘safe’ vote is always with the NRA. They can bolster senators who cast particularly courageous ‘yes’ votes … or they can leave them hanging.”
It’ll take a fall in order to get back up, and this was a fall that people who wanted sensible gun legislation had to have. The NRA proved that they’re still a formidable force to reckon with if one even wants to pass background checks. However, the ball is in the hands of pro-gun control groups.
It was disgusting to see that those senators that promised to vote for background checks, then turned around right in the face of those who’ve lost their children in Newtown. It wasn’t about serving constituents, it was about how fearful they were of getting no check from the NRA this legislative session. Some, like Senator Mark Begich, insisted that you shouldn’t vote on legislation after an emotional reaction to an event. Then what was the Patriot Act? Even those looking for any rational Republicans to have come out of this vote have seen that there is a no show for political courage.
We also have broken supermajority rules in the Senate that need to change. The filibuster is allowed to run rampant, and it obstructs anything from getting done. The fact that polls showed that 90% of Americans supported background checks, and then later were spit in the face, shows that we have a serious corruption problem within our political system. It is up to the newly crafted pro-gun control groups to now undermine organizations like the NRA. As Dionne Jr. says, “The story of reform in America is that it often takes defeats to inspire a movement to build up the strength required for victory. Which way this story goes is up to us.”