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Outrage machines...

"America sponsored anti-Muslim film"

"Obama is gonna take away your guns"

Essay: The One Percent Court, by Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger


Essay: The One Percent Court

September 13, 2012

by Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger

A version of this essay will appear in an upcoming issue of The Nation, focusing on the Supreme Court. It will be available on newsstands Sept. 20, 2012.

Why a special issue of The Nation devoted to the Supreme Court? Because with partisan gridlock paralyzing both the president and Congress, the Court has more than ever become “the decider” — the most powerful branch of government, and one at the center of a controversy whose outcome may shape the course of democracy for generations to come.

By a paradox both historical and constitutional, the political appointees on the Roberts Court will never have to answer for their decisions to voters like you and me. Nor to the president or Congress: once they are confirmed, the Supreme Court’s justices, like all federal judges, serve for life or “good behavior.”

The Constitution’s framers meant to secure the Court against political pressure from the electorate and arbitrary dismissal of its members from on high by presidents dissatisfied with their decisions. As the third branch of the new national government — one whose powers were to be divided to block overreach by any one of them — the Court would be equal to the executive and legislative arms, even though the president appointed its members with the concurrence of the Senate.

That changed dramatically when John Marshall became the fourth chief justice in 1801, shortly before Thomas Jefferson took office. The two brilliant men were bitter rivals, members of opposing parties. Marshall was a Federalist, Jefferson a Republican (no kin to the present GOP). So the supposedly neutral Court has been thrown since its infancy onto the partisan battleground, where it remains today. In a landmark case in 1803, Marshall refused to apply a 1789 law giving Jefferson a power not strictly authorized in the Constitution and therefore “unconstitutional.” With that decision, the Court was no longer merely equal to the other two branches. It had become superior — the last word on how the Constitution should be interpreted — and its lifelong members would never risk their jobs, no matter how much they fell out of step with changing times and values.


Was free speech on mute during the conventions?

Was free speech on mute during the conventions?

By Ann O'Neill, CNN

updated 2:13 PM EDT, Sun September 9, 2012



On Tuesday, the first day of the Democratic convention, about 100 protesters blocked the intersection across the street from "the pen," demanding their free speech rights and entangling police in a two-hour standoff that ended peacefully when the skies opened up for the daily downpour.

"At least they gave us some entertainment," said a city worker overseeing the free speech area, which had to be one of the loneliest convention assignments. He passed the time reading a biography of Yogi Berra.

Such was the state of free speech here during last week's Democratic convention, and at the Republican convention the week before in Tampa, Florida.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to freely practice one's religion and publicly speak one's mind without government constraint or interference. It also gives citizens the right to assemble and to air their grievances to their government. But the law remains unsettled on whether the government has the power to say where.

The Supreme Court has established guidelines to measure whether speech restrictions pass constitutional muster. The restrictions must be neutral and not based on content, and they must be specific; they must serve a significant government interest, such as public safety; and they must provide for alternative means of communication.

The free speech zones are meant to be that alternative means of communication, but the Lawyers Guild advises clients to avoid them and use the public sidewalks.


Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose "Corporate" Education Model in Chicago

Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose "Corporate" Education Model in Chicago

watch: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/10/striking_teachers_parents_join_forces_to

To discuss the Chicago teachers’ strike, we’re joined by two guests: Phil Cantor, a teacher and strike captain at Chicago’s North-Grand High School and member of Teachers for Social Justice, and Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, the mother of two public school students in Chicago and a member of the grassroots group Parents 4 Teachers. [includes rush transcript]


Phil Cantor, has taught science for the last nine years. He currently teaches at North-Grand High School in Chicago. He is a strike captain at his school. Cantor is also part of the group Teachers for Social Justice.

Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, mother of two public school students in Chicago and a member of the grassroots group, Parents 4 Teachers. Her kids attend Coonley Elementary School.

Kashmir’s Melting Glaciers May Cut Ice With Sceptics


Kashmir’s Melting Glaciers May Cut Ice With Sceptics

By Athar Parvaiz

SRINAGAR, India, Aug 31 2012 (IPS) - Jowhar Ahmed, an air-conditioner dealer in Srinagar, is pleased at a spurt in business this summer caused by temperatures soaring over 35 degrees Celsius – unusual in this alpine valley ringed by snow-capped mountains.

“I sold more than 70 air-conditioners in just one month,” Ahmed, who runs the Oriental Sales electrical goods outlet, told IPS. To cope with the demand Ahmed and other dealers have begun stocking air-conditioners in Srinagar rather than book orders for later delivery.

That the weather is warming over Kashmir is not news for climate scientists who have shown in several studies that the glaciers in the vast Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya (HKKH) region – called the world’s ‘third pole’ – are melting and receding at an increasing pace.

In the latest of these studies, European scientists led by Andreas Kaab of the department of geosciences, University of Oslo, have shown that glacial melt is worse in the Kashmir Himalayas than in other regions of the HKKH.

Kaab’s findings, published in the Aug. 23 edition of ‘Nature’, suggest that Kashmir’s glaciers may be receding by as much as half-a-metre annually, presenting an immediate threat to the rivers that feed into the Indus basin.

“Glaciers are among the best indicators of terrestrial climate variability,” said Kaab in the study. “They contribute importantly to water resources in many mountainous regions and are a major contributor to global sea-level rise.”


Why a plank in the GOP platform: "No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands"? Ask Ralph Reed

Why would a plank in the official GOP platform say "No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands"? Ask Ralph Reed ... or read this latest essay from Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

Ralph Reed in the Marianas Trenches

A plank in the GOP platform tells just one tale of Reed's heinous hypocrisy.

Ralph Reed in the Marianas Trenches

August 31, 2012

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Entrance to garment factory on Saipan; Credit: WikiCommons

As the sun slowly sets over the Republican National Convention in Tampa, we settle back in the chairs that nice Mr. Eastwood just gave us and ponder some of the other oddities of the week. Like this item in the official GOP platform pointed out by Brad Plumer of The Washington Post:

No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands. “The Pacific territories should have flexibility to determine the minimum wage, which has seriously restricted progress in the private sector.”

This caught our attention (and thanks to colleague Theresa Riley for sending) because it once again reminds us of the sordid past of evangelical and political entrepreneur Ralph Reed who, as this week’s edition of Moyers & Company reports in detail, has emerged from the ashes of epic career fail to reestablish himself as a powerful figure in Republican politics.

As head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Reed boasts he’s building a political dynamo of five million members with a massive database, an annual budget of $100 million and full-time lobbyists in all fifty state capitals, a colossal effort aimed at putting in place a right-wing social agenda and identifying and establishing contact with what it estimates as 27 million conservative voters in America. As you can imagine, with clout like that, Reed and his coalition were in high cotton at the Tampa convention.


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