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Friday, June 28, 2013

Voting Rights decision another fine mess for Congress

Before we join our fellow progressives in the justifiable assault on the Supreme Court for its colossally f-ed up decision, Tuesday, in Shelby County v Holder, which struck down key elements of the pre-clearance provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, let's talk about for whom this mess tolls. It tolls for Congress. Laurel & Hardy
"This is another fine mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy, on countless occasions, to his bumbling best buddy, Stan Laurel
In those old, black and white shorts from the 1930s, the rotund blowhard, Hardy, was always blaming his rail thin, whimpering sidekick, Laurel, for the trouble the pair always got into. The problem for Hardy is that everyone always knew that it was really he who led them into trouble, and not the friend on whom he laid the problem. So it is with the Supreme Court and Congress. In this little tragic tale of government mismanagement, SCOTUS and Congress are Laurel and Hardy, respectively. While the easy thing to do would lay all the blame on the Supremes for the VRA decision, let's keep in mind that when a majority Republican Congress reauthorized the act, and a Republican president signed it into law, in 2006, they decided they did not want to do the hard work to reformulate how jurisdictions are included in Section 5 of the Act.
"There is no valid reason to insulate the coverage formula from review merely because it was previously enacted 40 years ago," wrote the Justices, in the majority opinion. "If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have enacted the present coverage formula."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pelosi's less than stellar moment at Netroots Nation

Nancy Pelosi speaks
House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
explainsthe role of government to a challenging
Netroots Nation crowd (PBG June 22, 2013)
"The fact is, you should reject any notion that President Obama's action have anything to do with what President Bush was doing...
"We protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That's our oath of office, so we have that responsibility." - House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, to the Netroots Nation conference, Saturday, June 22, 2013
Politicians have a way of talking, when they think they know more than we do about what's good for our country. They treat us like we are petulant and impulsive children and they have to be the stern parent, explaining they are doing what they are doing because they know. They get it and we don't. "When you're the parent," they seem to be saying, "you can make the rules. In the meantime, this is my house and you will do what I say." Hours after Politico published Emily Schultheis' article, about the lack of anti-Obama sentiment at Netroots Nation, the annual progressive conclave in San Jose, California, this weekend, a ruckus erupted over the NSA revelations that have been in the news lately. And the group's vehemence was aimed at the highest ranking politician to attend the conference, House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Whistleblowers, secrets and the public’s right to the truth

One may call it despotic or guarded, paranoid or protective, but the reality of keeping a firm lid on the true nature of the way a government operates disempowers the people that government supposedly represents. Hiding data from the people with a wall of secrecy that keeps them from making an informed decisions about a policy, a candidate or a war, is short-sighted and can be assumed to serve only the needs of the withholders, with little regard for the public that elected them.

While it is certainly true that the unwarranted domestic spying activities of the Bush administration were a ruthless broadside to the Constitution, it forced Congress into codifying a legal basis for what government agencies, like the NSA, determined were necessary actions to protect our country. But the DNA of our Republic is not designed to hide so much classified information from so many for so long.

Now, it is finally appearing, more than ten years after 9/11 and the subsequent, draconian legislation known as the Patriot Act, that the unwieldy bladder of secrecy our federal government created has had its fill and is beginning to spring leaks. This is not the light air of happy balloons floating innocuously above the Potomac. This is the Hindenburg, a gas bag in a lightning storm, just waiting for the right spark to explode its cache of secret programs and spill it all onto the ground, below. Oh, the humanity.