Posts tagged politics
Posts tagged politics
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.
“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 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.”
Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast
The Wall Street Journal
“Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX,Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses … has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today’s college campuses, neither ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ nor even the lesser ‘by clear and convincing evidence’ standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct. These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as ‘a preponderance of the evidence.’ … All my son’s accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were “more likely than not” to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%. There are very real and horrifying …. offenses [that] should be investigated and prosecuted … What does remain a question is how we can make the process fair for everyone.”
Judith Grossman, self-professed feminist, “would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX”. That is, before her son was accused of rape by an ex-girlfriend. He was charged straight away, not even given a preliminary hearing, and this was all possible because of a directive lobbed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. With a margin of proof of 49.9-50.1%, Ms. Grossman’s son is able to be charged due to “a preponderance of the evidence”.
“Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?”
After receiving a letter explaining to her son what the charges were, in the vaguest words possible, Mr. Grossman had to go through a 2-hour hearing without counsel in front of the school committee. His documentation was shunted, and he wasn’t told of the witnesses that were going to testify against him. Luckily, Ms. Grossman is a lawyer, and was able to help her son out. She used the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for research.
On FIRE’s website, you can check to see if your college has a favorable Speech Code Rating. I just found out that apparently my school’s Speech Code Rating is Red. Shit.
Economists: Sorry About That Mass Unemployment
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
“The political debate has been dominated by an imaginary fear,As a result, we’ve endured mass unemployment, a phenomenon with enormous and very long-term consequences.”
A paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that stated our economy slowed down once our debt reached 90% of GDP has been recently shown to be wrong. It makes people wonder, how is it possible that a study that has had such important implications for policy creation been allowed to be so misconstrued? I mean, the Bowles-Simpson report was based on this paper. Who else relied on this paper for their reports? The editorial board of the Washington Post, news stories (such as this one), Thomas Friedman, Joe Scarborough, and according to Chait, “pretty much everybody in Congress.”
With that now in mind, it’s time we stop focusing on a fake enemy, and focus on the real adversary of our economy: unemployment. As long as the (correct) studies show that someone will not get hired if they have been out of work for 6+ months, we will not be on a fast track to recovery.
To Boston from Kabul with LOVE.
“[Paul’s speech] clipped-tail history lesson praising the civil rights record of the pre-Southern Strategy Republican Party, while slamming the concurrent record of the Democrats [and] completely ignored the past generation of egregious and willful acts of insensitivity by the G.O.P. toward the African-American community, … The Republican Party has a tarnished brand in the eyes of the African-American community, largely because of its own actions and rhetoric. That can’t be glossed over by painting the present party with the laurels of the distant past.”
Rand Paul went to Howard University to deliver a speech about how Republicans lost the black vote. During the speech, he went over instances in American history when Republicans were apparently not racist and segregationist, thumping points that were presented during a CPAC panel. Here’s what Paul had to say about why Republicans lost the black vote in the 60s:
I think what happened during the Great Depression was that African Americans understood that Republicans championed citizenship and voting rights but they became impatient for economic emancipation.
African Americans languished below white Americans in every measure of economic success and the Depression was especially harsh for those at the lowest rung of poverty.
The Democrats promised equalizing outcomes through unlimited federal assistance while Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible-the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets.
Paul’s assertions go straight in contention with the actual reasons why Democrats started getting the black vote.
Black voters may have lost it when, for example, Mitt Romney said Obama’s win of the black demographic was based on “gifts”. They might have lost it when, for example, Rick Santorum said he didn’t want to make “black people’s lives better”, and then later say that he meant “blah”. Paul continued to say that there was no real difference between the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and the Party of Reagan:
“The argument that I’m trying to make is that we haven’t changed. We don’t talk about it… There are some of us who haven’t changed, who are part of that party that you liked, who truly believe that Reagan was still part of that. Who don’t see an abrupt difference.”
All of this, despite Reagan’s “welfare queen” statement. Despite Gingrich’s crackdown on “rap music” in the 90s. Despite Ron Paul’s racist newsletters. Despite an apology by former RNC chairman Mehlman about the Southern Strategy. Despite former Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist saying he thinks Plessy v. Ferguson should be reinstated. Despite Bush’s horrible handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Despite Herman Cain’s claim he had left the “Democratic plantation”. Despite Dr. Carson saying liberals are against black people “[coming] off the plantation”.
It’s time the Republican Party ceases feigning racism.