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Chernynkaya On February - 21 - 2011

Two stories about the Supremes. Studies have shown that the SCOTUS in NOT immune to public opinion.

From the SCOTUS own website:

“Hamilton had written that through the practice of judicial review the Court ensured that the will of the whole people, as expressed in their Constituti­on, would be supreme over the will of a legislatur­e, whose statutes might express only the temporary will of part of the people.

And Madison had written that constituti­onal interpreta­tion must be left to the reasoned judgment of independen­t judges, rather than to the tumult and conflict of the political process. If every constituti­onal question were to be decided by public political bargaining­, Madison argued, the Constituti­on would be reduced to a battlegrou­nd of competing factions, political passion and partisan spirit.”

The Bigger Clarence Thomas Scandal

It would be comforting to think that Thomas’ shady behavior was an anomaly, but it’s actually just the most egregious example of trends that have made Supreme Court justices seem more like hypocritical and partisan politicians than disinterested jurists. If left unchecked, the court will seriously damage its public image.

The problem has two roots: changing social norms and lax ethical rules governing the Supremes. The former is beyond the scope of our government but the latter isn’t, and Congress should act.

There’s some reason to be optimistic. This past week, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill to create an inspector general for the judiciary who would have authority over the Supreme Court. That — combined with a law that would impose the important elements of the Code of Judicial Conduct on the Supreme Court and create a mechanism to enforce it — could help save the Court from itself.

Gaming the System

At the Supreme Court, could legal precedent be less important than popular opinion?

[J]ust nine months ago, it was an article of faith among court watchers that President Obama’s health care reform plan would be upheld at the Supreme Court by a margin of 7-2 or 8-1. Today it is an equally powerful article of faith that everything rests in the hands of Justice Anthony Kennedy in what will surely be a 5-4 decision. What changed between last March and last Monday?

To those in the business of making predictions about the Supreme Court justices, one thing that did change was a smoke signal sent up by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia last month in a passionate dissent from the court’s refusal to hear a case from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Alderman v. United States involved the right of the federal government to criminalize a violent felon’s purchase of body armor. And as Andrew Cohen explained it, the two justices weren’t obligated to publish a lengthy dissent, spelling out…their view that the Commerce Clause does not allow the federal government to make such a regulation. Their small treatise on the limits of the Commerce Clause’s power, Cohen wrote, “confirms to the world that no more than seven votes on the Supreme Court are still in play over the constitutionality of the federal health care measure.”

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I am feeling that the abortion issue is too far off most people’s radar, and that worries me. This was settled law, yet we are re-litigating it.

Culture Shock

How the GOP’s abortion-mania caught Washington off guard.

Many Beltway insiders seem to have convinced themselves that abortion doesn’t matter anymore. Just look at the press clippings from CPAC, where Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wowed his D.C. cheerleaders with a speech doubling down on his earlier call for a “truce” over culture-war issues like abortion. Chris Christie came into town a few days later, and excited a lot of the same people with a speech focused almost exclusively on the idea that entitlement-spending cuts are the nation’s top priority. Big-time conservative strategists like Michael Barone have opined that a truce over abortion policy—as reflected in a structure of legalized abortion with “reasonable” state restrictions—is already in place. And we are told incessantly that the driving force in Republican politics, the Tea Party movement, is basically libertarian in its orientation and wildly uninterested in cultural issues.

How out of touch could they be? It’s rare to see the Washington zeitgeist so disconnected from the reality of what conservative activists and their representatives are doing and saying on the ground in Iowa, in state capitals across the country, and next door in the House of Representatives. Far from being a sideshow, the Right-to-Life movement’s priorities have been front-and-center for conservatives across the country.

Why are Republicans are still fixated on abortion, at a time when they seem to be slowly drifting toward tolerance, or at least relative indifference, on other culture-war issues such as LGBT rights? For one thing, public opinion on abortion seems frozen in amber: Notably, in sharp contrast with issues like gay marriage, there’s no evidence of generational change. But the main reason for the GOP’s focus on restricting and ultimately outlawing abortion is simply that the Right-to-Life movement has worked very hard for many years to make itself perhaps the most impossible-to-ignore, dangerous-to-diss faction in Republican politics, particularly at the presidential level. Its strength was most recently illustrated when it stopped John McCain from choosing Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge as his 2008 running mate, and had its poster pol, Sarah Palin, placed on the ticket instead. That’s power.

 

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Just some good news we never hear. There were many more protests from the Left and they didn’t only involve students. IMO, we need to point those out to ALL news outlets. I think it would be energizing if we knew just how many Progressives are taking to the streets.

The Top 14 Student Activism Stories of The Year

A core mission of StudentNation is to highlight the frequent but often overlooked instances of student and youth engagement with critical political, economic and cultural questions. This round-up below offers an incomplete but illustrative survey of the scope and breadth of student activism currently.

Related:

Indignez-vous!

 

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Oh, great. Another treasonous hate group to pay attention to:

Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason

Glenn Beck loves them. Tea Partiers court them. Congressmen listen to them. Meet the fast-growing “patriot” group that’s recruiting soldiers to resist the Obama administration.

 

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Oh, great. It’s not only the Kochs. Another disgusting RW big-money group.

How John Birch Society Extremism Never Dies: The Fortune Behind Scott Walker’s Union-Busting Campaign

Much of Walker’s critical political support can be credited to a network of right-wing fronts and astroturf groups in Wisconsin supported largely by a single foundation in Milwaukee: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a $460 million conservative honey pot dedicated to crushing the labor movement.

Walker has deeply entwined his administration with the Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation’s CEO, former state GOP chairman Michele Grebe, chaired Walker’s campaign and headed his transition. But more importantly, the organizations lining up to support Walker are financed by Bradley cash…

Media Transparency’s profile of the Bradley Foundation sheds light on its founder:

Robert Welch, who founded the Society in 1958, was a regular speaker at Allen-Bradley sales meetings. Harry distributed Birchite literature, as did Fred Loock, another key figure at the company. They also supported the Australian doctor Fred Schwarz, founder of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade; William F. Buckley, Jr.’s National Review; and a right-wing Midwest radio program produced by anti-communist producer Bob Siegrist. Harry’s main political targets were “World Communism” and the U.S. federal government, not necessarily in that order. His political philosophy was laissez-faire capitalism, and he was strongly opposed to anything that might restrict his freedom to conduct his business as he saw fit.

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And finally, this is why I am in such strong support of the US Uncut protest on Feb 26th. If they can do it with all their corporate backing, we MUST do it too!

The Tea Party Is Winning

Washington – Take five steps back and consider the nature of the political conversation in our nation’s capital. You would never know that it’s taking place at a moment when unemployment is still at 9 percent, when wages for so many people are stagnating at best, and when the United States faces unprecedented challenges to its economic dominance.

No, we are acting here as if the only real problem the United States confronts is the budget deficit; the only test of leadership is whether a president is willing to make big cuts in programs that protect the elderly; and the largest threat to our prosperity comes from public employees.

The media are full of commentary on President Obama’s “failure of leadership.” There is some truth to the critique but not in the way the charge is typically made.

Obama is not at fault for his budget proposals. But any fair examination of the news suggests that he is in danger of losing control of the national narrative again, just as he did during the stimulus and health care battles.

In his State of the Union address, Obama made a good case that budget cutting is too small an agenda and that this is also a time for more government — yes, more government — in areas that would expand opportunities and strengthen the economy. That argument has been entirely drowned out. If politics is reduced to a crabbed and crabby accountants’ war, Obama loses. The country will, too.

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

15 Responses so far.

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  1. escribacat says:

    Cher, Thanks for all the links. I just read that Oath Keepers article. Holy shit. These guys scare me much more than Al Qaeda. Their foundation is pure paranoia, that Obama’s secret aim is to institute martial law. I don’t understand why so-called legitimate politicians would support a group of nutbags like this. It just confirms my feelings that the rightwing fringe that has been in hiding for quite a long time is now moving into the mainstream and being welcomed with open arms by politicians and media.

    • audadvnc says:

      Why does the gov’t go along with right wing fringe groups? They’re spiritual brethren -- people into force and guns tend to have other mutual interests. And those interests have almost nothing in common with yours. They own guns for protection -- from what?

      You and I represent everything they find disgusting, frightening and perverted in society. Given their druthers, we would be -- gone. That’s why they’ll send undercover FBI agents to spy on antiwar coffee klatsches, while encouraging armed Tea Partiers at Obama rallies.

      Just sayin’… “one plus one plus one = fill in the blank”.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      E’Cat--my pleasure. yeah-- it really is frightening, and to be honest, I have to wonder why these groups are legal for those in the armed services. it seems to be against the doctrine of a military overseen by civilians and certainly opens the way for a government overthrow. Did you ever see that old movie, “Seven Days in May?”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_in_May

      • escribacat says:

        Cher, I have seen that, but it’s been ages. What a great movie. That’s a really good point though. It almost seems like this is a sort of shadow army. It also reminds me of the “Promise Keepers,” a religious right organization.

  2. KillgoreTrout says:

    Nice work Cher. In my opinion, the anti-abortion sentiment is of a religious nature and should not, as such, be written into law. For the right to lifers, it is clearly a concern as to questions of the soul and when does a person, become a person.
    Their opinions and beliefs are based loosely on the Ten Commandments. Particularly, Thou Shalt Not Kill. Which is highly hypocritical of these people, for many of them have no qualms about killing thousands and thousands in a trumped war. Many, many of them are in favor of capital punishment as well.
    Questions of the soul are clearly based in theology and should never be allowed to enter into our legislation.
    As far as I know, no woman is forced to get an abortion. At least not by the government.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Anti-choice conservatives just had better not call themselves Libertarians on this issue—anti-choice is the antithesis of Lbertarianism. And that includes Ron Paul, who is anti-cholice, or should I say he is PRO putitng government in my body.

      The anti-choicers will NEVER give up, because of the religious reasons you mentioned. And it would not surprise me to find abortion rights taken away in my lifetime. And they are sneaky and clever about changing people’s perceptions. For example, TV cable networks now promote teen pregnancy—those are RW networks, for the most part. “Teen Mom” is a hit “reality” show. I believe it is part of a concerted effort to make unwed pregnancy acceptable, when before it was frowned upon. And Hollywood has unwittingly helped: most stars have kids out of wedlock routinely. Without that previous sense of shame, abortion becomes less a choice for many.

      And don’t get me started on taking care of those “beloved” babies! They consistently vote against anything that helps families or children once born. As George Carlin said, “”When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat. “

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        Cher, it would be nice, to put it oh so mildly, if we had a Supreme Court that actually adhered to the idea of a totally unbiased review of our laws and their constitutionality. But, alas, human nature prevails once again and bias and prejudice still rule.
        I think that the biggest factor, for woman in deciding whether to get an abortion or not, is a financial one. Of course there are several exceptions.
        My niece got pregnant on purpose so the boy she loved would marry her. And he did. But it was a marriage that only lasted two years and was full of turmoil. I think you are right that many unwed teens would see no problem with giving birth outside of a marriage, or at least a union that had a sound foundation.
        As far as celebrities are concerned, there is a lot that can be determined about a nation by considering the people that nation chooses to celebrate.

  3. cyrano1 says:

    Fabulous post again Cher! I’ve just spent what seems like hours clicking on your sources which led to other sources which puts more pieces of the incestuous right wing “think” tank corporate funded puzzle of government ownership together for me. Thanks for laying a trail of perfectly placed bread crumbs for us to follow!

    Your links led me to revisit my local piece of the puzzle, our local Evergreen Freedom Foundation, another Koch via Cato funded marvel which has for many years relentless gone after our Washington State Teacher’s Union, WEA. And although Cato’s list of corporate donors has shrunk, Walmart is still (no surprise) a heavy contributor. :(

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Cato_Institute#Corporate_sponsors

  4. KQuark says:

    Excellent series Cher. As much as I surf the net I still missed allot of these gems. I put it in Time Out for O/T but Krugman’s latest editorial is worth a read too.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/opinion/18krugman.html?_r=1&ref=paulkrugman

    Anyone who says they are serious about the budget and does not address the fee-for-service aspect of Medicare are just lying to the public. The ACA is the first serious action the country has taken regarding lowering provider costs and fraud in Medicare. Yet that’s what Republicans want to repeal.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Thank you KQ! The crucial take-aways from Mr. Krugmanm and they all need to be repeated and repeated and repeated:

      1.) Slashing spending while the economy is still deeply depressed is a recipe for slower economic growth, which means lower tax receipts — so any deficit reduction from G.O.P. cuts would be at least partly offset by lower revenue.

      2.) Notice that I said “health care,” not “entitlements.” People in Washington often talk as if there were a program called Socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid, then focus on things like raising the retirement age. Long-run projections suggest that spending on the major entitlement programs will rise sharply over the decades ahead, but the great bulk of that rise will come from the health insurance programs, not Social Security.

      3.) What would real action on health look like? Well, it might include things like giving an independent commission the power to ensure that Medicare only pays for procedures with real medical value; rewarding health care providers for delivering quality care rather than simply paying a fixed sum for every procedure; limiting the tax deductibility of private insurance plans; and so on.
      And what do these things have in common? They’re all in last year’s health reform bill.
      That’s why I say that Mr. Obama gets too little credit. He has done more to rein in long-run deficits than any previous president.
      And if his opponents were serious about those deficits, they’d be backing his actions and calling for more; instead, they’ve been screaming about death panels.

      4.) This brings me to the seventh word of my summary of the real fiscal issues: if you’re serious about the deficit, you should be willing to consider closing at least part of this gap with higher taxes. True, higher taxes aren’t popular, but neither are cuts in government programs.

      And, just my own personal nit-pick:
      We need to stop calling them “entitlements.” It gives people the idea that those necessary services are things spoiled people feel “entitled” to. We need to insist they be called—at the very least—“government services” Ones we contributed to, BTW.

      • KQuark says:

        That’s why I get so tired of people on both sides bashing ACA. It’s all in the law what we need to really start lowing HC costs. Even the health insurers are limited like never before where they have to put at least 80% of premiums towards claims and there is a non-profit provision in the bill as well. I’m finishing an article that shows who delivers the insurance is much less important than the size of the risk pool and how benefits are delivered.

  5. intotheabyss says:

    Good post Cher. Thanks for mentioning US Uncut. I posted a link to it on another activist site. This seems really promising. I’m going to try and assemble a group from my area to travel to Boston on Saturday. This week’s action is targeting Bank of America. There are lots of BOA main branches that are being targeted around the country next weekend. Get there if you can!


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