Archive for constitutional rights

We must climb out of the black hole of American injustice and apathy

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As regular readers know, I do a weekly radio spot with Nicole Sandler, and today we tried to climb out of the black hole of American injustice and apathy as we discussed some of the stories you won't hear or see in the corporate media.

Every week, Nicole has someone on from Talk Radio News Service who fills her in on the morning's breaking news. Chief White House correspondent and global analyst Victoria Jones was her TRNS guest this week, and this is the disturbing report that she brought us. Ready? Emphasis mine:

Intel Chief Issues Press Limits:

The Obama administration has barred officials at 17 agencies from speaking to journalists about unclassified intelligence-related topics without permission. The directive, issued by DNI James Clapper, also requires agencies' employees to report any unplanned contact with journalists (NYT, Hill, me) [Laffy Note: If you recall, Clapper wasn't exactly forthcoming with Congress about NSA surveillance.]

• Officials who violate the directive may be disciplined or fired. The directive was issued in March. Clapper also issued rules to protect whistle-blowers who report info about waste, fraud or abuse via approved govt channels, although not to the news media

• Those rules, carrying out a presidential order, don't apply to intel contractors, only agency employees, a gap that's attracted scrutiny amid the debate over leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden - who pointed out he wasn't covered

The directive was reported by Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Govt Secrecy. He wrote: "So under most circumstances, an intel community employee is at liberty to discuss unclassified "intelligence-related information" with his or her next-door neighbor,"

• "But if the neighbor happened to be a member of the media, then the contact would be prohibited altogether without prior authorization." (well, when you put it like that...)

You can read more details here, at the New York Times. This is not easy news to process, let alone accept.

Needless to say, Nicole and I lamented about the state of our dwindling rights, the decrease in feasible ways to organize and fight back, our abysmal lack of real news, and the mounting difficulty in disseminating accurate information, the soon-to-be extinct liberal radio outlets (did I mention Randi Rhodes is going off the air on May 16th?), among other things. The Political Carnival will post the podcast covering all of this later today.

The account above followed news of the terrible Supreme Court ruling that upheld Michigan’s affirmative action ban.

Jacob Dean of Filter Free Radio posted this quote in the chat room during the show:

"We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

Chris Hedges

We clearly have our work cut out for us.

Voting is only part of the answer. Growing a movement, using social media, forcing our elected officials to hear us, supporting Progressive candidates for local offices on up, and refusing to accept the status quo matter. Pay attention, Progressives, organize, speak out loudly, and never ever give in or give up.

Between these reports, the (sometimes violent) extremists on the right, their lies, fear tactics, and propaganda, the growing polarization of this country, the threats of climate change and assault on civil rights, and the (often willful) ignorance of voters, it's time to wake up and act before it's too late.

We can do this. But we have to start right now.

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Are Corporations People or Not? If They Are, We Can Put Them Involuntarily In Conservatorship

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Corporations are people 2

Republicans, led by the vocal charge of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been saying corporations are people, too.

Then in 2010, the Supreme Court with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, determined that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to exercise their freedom of speech to buy elections and run our government.

In my mind, it's human beings that are people and corporations are strictly legal entities. And now it comes down to the distinction. Because if corporations are people, I want them treated that way.

If I make a series of bad, irrational or even questionable actions as an individual I can be deemed a threat to myself or others. I can be forced to appear in court and prove my competency or I can be institutionalized or made to report to a conservator. My rights can be taken away from me.

Using the Citizen's United ruling, can't we, as a stock holder (meaning someone with a vested interest in the well-being of the "individual) or purchaser of a company's product, petition the court and make them appear before a judge and prove to be competent enough to avoid supervision? Can you imagine the competency hearings that could spur on?

Outrageous, of course. That's taking the ruling way too far. But didn't the Supreme Court do the same thing?

They gave corporations the right to make donations large enough to sway elections and therefore impact my well-being. So why can't the shoe be put on the other foot? Just think about it for a minute.

show on other footThe reason there's local courts is to handle local issues, violations of laws. There are state Supreme or Superior courts to review those when justices may have made a mistake. There's Federal Appeals courts to review possible mistakes by Superior Courts. And there's the Supreme Court to review those possible misrulings. What happens when the Supreme Court makes a mistake? They can be guilty of that just as easily as any other court.

Well, like with your iPhone, we have an app for that.

MovetoAmend.org has been created to put some sanity back in America after the egregious Citizen's United ruling. They want to see it change -- recent elections have proven we need to take steps to protect our votes and now. MovetoAmed makes the argument is that with unlimited corporate money in the election process individuals rights are being trampled.

Remember Orwell's 1984 with big brother looking over our shoulder. We scoffed. Then come 2013 and Snowden's revealing the vast big brother of the NSA. It became reality.

So if you think corporate takeovers of this country isn't possible, you're naive.

Dissenting Justice Stevens wrote:

". . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

~Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010

The video below demonstrates how we CAN and MUST take corporate and special interests out of political campaigns. It's really a hopeful few minutes, definitely worth a look-see.

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Senate deal avoids default, but "I want the names of the idiots who elected these people. Oh, wait. It was us."

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gotta laugh

Jonathan Zimmerman is an author who teaches history and education at New York University. He has an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times that tracks the sometimes entertaining, mostly frustrating, and often astonishing history of United States Congress members. Or as fiction writer Rex Stout put it in 1942, "The Illustrious Dunderheads."

Today the Senate reached a deal to re-open the government and avoid default... for now. Senator Rafael "Ted" Cruz decided he wouldn't block it, because hey, that's just the kind of low key, reasonable, go-along guy he is.

However, as MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell just said, "The Speaker has lost control... What have they won after putting this country in such misery?"

A few of Zimmerman's descriptions of the clown car in which our lawmakers reside are as follows:

[C]omedian Jimmy Kimmel recently noted. "Congress is still getting paid," Kimmel jibed. "I want the names of the idiots who elected these people.... Oh, wait. It was us? Never mind."

For the last two centuries, we have asked members of Congress to advance our personal interests and do the best thing for the nation. When that doesn't work out, we mock and malign them. It's a whole lot easier than looking in the mirror. [...]

"Suppose you were an idiot," wrote Mark Twain. "And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

laugh rimshot

Back in the 1920s, Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth, "realized, everyone wanted something from their legislature: a job, a tax break, a benefit. But they also wanted congressmen who would look out for the nation as a whole, not just for the narrow concerns of their constituents."

Tell it to the Heritage Foundation-controlled conservative extremists.

Zimmerman goes on to say that, "That's how we arrived at our current predicament."

If we really hated Congress, we'd vote the bums out. But we like the loot we get, so we send them back. Then we start the cycle again, ridiculing our representatives for lining their own pockets at the expense of the national future. It's enough to make a grown man laugh. Or cry.

Hence the genesis of my pseudonym. GottaLaff... or you cry.

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Here's who is really behind pushing GOP way to the right, away from compromise with Pres. Obama

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That image is the answer to this John Belushi quote from the film "Animal House":

"See if you can guess what I am now."

Now see if you can guess why I posted that quote.

Here's another one, by Abraham Lincoln addressing the Southern people in his Cooper Union Address, February 27, 1860:

"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events."

See if you can guess what I'm talking about now.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Well... not quite.

Hint #1: Doyle McManus wrote about it in his Los Angeles Times op-ed Sunday, describing the powerful engine of pressure on the GOP to move way to the right and away from any compromise with President Obama. Hint #2: Raffy "Ted" Cruz is their (big, loony, alienating) mouthpiece, but he's no leader:

"There's no question in my mind that I have more influence now on public policy than I did as an individual senator," [president of Washington's Heritage Foundation, former Sen. Jim] DeMint told NPR recently.

It was Heritage Action that focused tea party conservatives in the House on the idea of using this fall's long-scheduled votes on federal spending to try to "defund" Obamacare, and the group then organized a summer-long campaign (starring Cruz) to publicize the idea. [...]

The drive to defund Obamacare hasn't accomplished much so far, but that doesn't appear to worry Heritage Action's 31-year-old CEO, Michael A. Needham, who said last week that the group's long-term goal was to transform the GOP, which he called "the allegedly conservative party." The government shutdown, he insisted, was a step on "a path to electoral success."

They're doing everything they can to make sure Republicans oppose new taxes, immigration reform, responsible gun safety measures, and, of course, the Affordable Care Act.

But here's what's different about DeMint and his allies: They are eager to target Republican incumbents, even to the point of challenging them in Republican primaries.

Now read that Lincoln quote again. These loons are not only pitting party members against each other, they're pitting themselves against many constitutionally protected laws and rights.

And whether they are victorious or they are defeated, we all end up losing.

H/t: Hugh Kaufman for Lincoln quote

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